Women in Domaining: Cyntia King

This week I am pleased to feature Cyntia King.  She has been described as a “Powerhouse intellectual property broker.” She’s spent 10+ years buying/selling IP (domains, TMs, patents, stock symbols, business DBAs, phone #s, and more) with prices ranging from 4-7 figures. Ms. King launched her own IP consulting company, Modern IP, in 2017.

Mike:  What you do doesn’t seem like something one can learn at school.  How did you perfect your craft?  Did you have mentors along the way that have helped you develop?

Cyntia:  I enjoy a challenge and have been lucky enough to be in the right place/time for some unique opportunities.

My career in IP started when a neighbor complained that he was too busy.  His job sounded interesting, so I pressed for an interview, which I got a month later.  My fascination with the industry was immediate.  And that neighbor – Dane Hill – turned out to be an amazing mentor.  He answered endless questions & offered a level of support most people never get.

The fact is that I love the work.  Mark Cuban said, “Sweat equity is the most valuable equity there is.  Know your business and industry better than anyone else in the world.  Love what you do or don’t do it.”  I’ve actively looked for opportunities to expand my knowledge and skills.  I asked for the toughest and most unusual cases; networked with the most knowledgeable professionals, and have made an effort to be honest and equitable in my dealings with clients and colleagues.  Like the man said, love it or don’t do it.

Mike:  Being a woman in business can sometimes present challenges.  Have you found that to be true in your career?  If so, please expand on that. 

Cyntia:  I got my gun safety certificate at 13, tried out for the wrestling team as a freshman, was a featured dancer in a college production, managed a heavy metal band, ran the front office of a modeling school/agency & have succeeded in a field dominated by men.  Obviously, I’ve never been overly concerned about gender roles and I have to admit that I rarely register gender bias.  While I’ve seen a decidedly male bent in the industry (like domain conference finales at the Playboy Mansion), I haven’t encountered anything I couldn’t overcome.  In the face of bad behavior, I acknowledge it, address with a little humor, and get back to work.  I do love the work.

Mike:  What advantages and disadvantages have you found having a female-owned business? 

Cyntia:  The biggest challenge I have as a business owner is work-life balance.  I know this is true for most executives, but I do believe there’s still an expectation that women fill the role of primary household caretaker.  It’s tough to balance client obligations and family responsibilities.  There are many days that I think I need a wife of my own.  My best advice to women in business is learn to say “no”.  You’re better off to acknowledge that you can’t be all things to all people, so be honest about what you can do.

Mike: Would you consider yourself a role model to other young women in the industry?

Cyntia: I’d like to think of myself as more of an inspiration than a role model.  I’m the person who prefers to take the path less traveled.  That track is both uniquely beautiful and full of potential difficulties.  Every person who steps off the beaten path has to navigate the course in their own way and I absolutely support that kind of individuality.

Mike:  Obviously, intellectual property is important, but many small businesses don’t realize they need to trademark, patent, or otherwise protect and secure their IP.  What advice do you have for small businesses?

Cyntia:  According to Ocean Tomo (a capital advisory firm), the average intangible asset value of S&P 500 companies is 84%.  That’s huge.

Most new businesses, though, start by concentrating on their product/service.  It’s only after they’ve achieved some success that they think about protecting their intangibles.  By this time they could well be a victim of their own success.  The marketplace is full of stories like: (1) the company that sees market traction only to be served with a C&D letter demanding they change their name because someone else already has the trademark; (2) the business that finally gets venture capital funding only to find that the domain name they need is now an order of magnitude more costly because the registrant read about the investment; or (3) the scammer who monitors the Trademark office for new filings, then goes out and registers the corresponding domains.

Bottom Line:  It’s important to have an intellectual property plan and that often means consulting an IP professional.

If you like this post and want to sponsor it on Domaining.com, click HERE.

Read more...

Video Interview: Kevin Fink with Todd Han of Dynadot

This next NamePros video features Todd Han of Dynadot talking about the GTLDS and his first experience at NamesCon.  This video is from a couple years back.  Let’s see how the discussion played out.  Please note that the transcript is available below.  Please note the full transcript is availbale below the video.

[scroll-box]Kevin: We’re here at NamesCon 2016. I’m joined by Todd Han of Dynadot. Todd, it’s great to meet you.

Todd: Nice to meet you as well, Kevin.

Kevin: This is your first NamesCon. Tell me about the experience so far and how you’ve enjoyed it.

Todd: Well, actually I love it. I like how the conference center is set up. There’s a lot of traffic to our booth, seeing a lot of new faces. So actually, I think it’s a great event, yeah.

Kevin: So you founded Dynadot 2002?

Todd: Right.

Kevin: That’s pushing its 15th year now. Tell us about the C change of the domain industry and what’s happened over even just the last few years and where you guys are at now.

Todd: Well, when we started the company 2002, we had three TLDs: .COM, .NET, .ORG. Over the next five years, we added maybe five more: .BIZ, .INFO, .MOBI, .ASIA, .TEL. And then in 2014, we added 300 more. It was a C change, yeah.

Kevin: And how has the influx of Chinese investors in the last year or so changed Dynadot in terms of not only how you’ve had to adjust to interact with customers, but just also on a business level?

Todd: That’s a great point. We actually have been in China for the last three years. We have an office there. We have a Dev team, and we have customer service there. And that wasn’t because we knew this was gonna happen, we just knew that China was a big market, you know. But, like you said, this year, China just blew up. I ran the numbers just last week and our revenue in RMB in 2015 was 20x what it was in 2014. So that’s a 2,000% increase.

Kevin: Incredible, man. Congratulations.

Todd: They’re just buying everything.

Kevin: Yeah. That’s an incredible growth for you guys. So what are some… I don’t know if you can speak of maybe some…maybe not top-secret things but some changes on your end or some product enhancements or innovations that you hope to enact on the registrar level or…I know you guys have other things like drop catching and… What are some things that we can look forward to as customers?

Todd: Well, probably the biggest thing is just the selection of TLDs we have now. That was a ton of work for us to add, you know, 300 TLDs into our system. So, we sell pretty much everything. Our prices are good and, you know, they all come with our control panel, which is, you know, people say it’s one of the best in the industry. You can also you know, taste the new GTLDs if you want, it works with our Grace Deletion System. We have expired auctions on them.

So, you know, it’s been a year now, so some of them are starting to drop. So you can check out new GTLDs at our auctions. Other stuff, we also do a lot of business on the retail side. We’re trying to sell domains to end users as well, that’s actually half our business. The other half is selling to domain investors. And so on that side , we have a site builder where you can, you know, you just drag and drop, putting images onto the website, write text, and it’s online, just like that.

You don’t need to know any HTML. So we have that product. Actually, domainers use that as well, just to throw up something, you know, to do testing or just to throw up like a for sale page or whatever. And that product is actually free for the first five pages. So that took us a couple years to build out. And as far as anything beyond that, it’s probably just incremental improvement for this year. We’re gonna add more GTLDs. We’re gonna move back to starting to add CCTLDs back in our system.

Kevin: Speaking of the new extensions, the two-part question, I’m curious the top-performing newer extensions on Dynadot. I’m also curious if you have any favorites of your own?

Todd: You know, you can look at it in two ways in terms of volume, registrations or in terms of revenue. In terms of volume, I think we sell the most .CLUB and .XYZ. In terms of revenue, you know, .XYZs, you know, pretty much have been discounted the whole time. So, you know, even though we sell a lot of it, we don’t make as much. In terms of revenue, we had surprising results from some of the smaller ones like .ONE, and that kind of ties in with your previous question like this Chinese domainer has kind of jumped all over that one for some reason.

Kevin: I’ve noticed it.

Todd: Yeah. Right.

Kevin: It’s really interesting. Yeah.

Todd: Yeah. So I think we’re one of the top…I think we’re number two registrar in the world for .ONE due to our Chinese customer base. My personal favorite, I really like .NINJA. It’s just fun, quirky. You know, I think a lot of domains are very serious like .COM, .NET, .ORG, you know, but .NINJAS is like… Well, you can just do whatever with it, you know. It’s more fun, you know. I think our industry is very serious but it’s good to have some fun once in a while.

Kevin: It’s getting maybe a little a bit of a sense of humor of .LOL and other things.

Todd: Exactly. Or .WTO [SP]. Yeah.

Kevin: What are some words of advice that you might give a new domain, someone new to the space?

Todd: Talk to the old domainers, they have seen everything already. There is a lot of skepticism by the old-timers. And so if I were a domainer, I would talk to them. I mean, they’ve seen everything. They’ve seen the tasting come in and leave. They’ve seen Google clamp down on PPC. They’ve seen multiple TLDs launch and fail. So, all the knowledge is already there, you just have to ask the right people, yeah.

Kevin: This is the closing day of the conference. Is there any highlights that you’ve experienced so far, whether the keynotes talks, just meeting people in general, and walking around?

Todd: So for me, my favorite part is just seeing the friends I’ve made over the years and also meeting new people. So that’s my personal highlight. In terms of the business, I think no question, the biggest talking point was the Chinese economy. What I heard was, you know, up till 2010 or 2012, everyone was putting their money into real estate in China.

And then, you know, around 2012, the government was kind of trying to suppress the price. They raised interest rates. They limited how many properties you could buy. So, people started investing in the stock market. And the market in China, I think it tripled in the last three years or something ridiculous like that, until this summer. And then it had a mini-crash.

And then last week it crashed again. So people can’t invest in real estate, they can’t invest in stocks. So where’s that money gonna go? It turns out a lot of it went into domain names. And I think that’s what we’re seeing and other asset classes. I’ve heard fine art. I’ve heard wine. I’ve heard precious metals. So that was a real highlight just talking to CNNIC, talking to Chinese domainers, just seeing what they had to say about that.

Kevin: That’s interesting. Yeah. We’ve spoken to a few people who’ve heard various insights as to whether this either current or hopefully not future turbulence in the markets is going to affect domains, whether more people are gonna buy into it or people are gonna kind of withdraw from it from the market.

Todd: Yeah. What I heard was as long as the Chinese economy is not doing well, domains will do well. Once the Chinese economy picks up again, they’re gonna start investing in real estate and stocks again.

Kevin: Okay. That’s interesting. We’ll see what happens. [crosstalk 00:07:54]

Todd: That’s what I heard about it but I’m not an economist.

Kevin: Neither am I. Neither am I. So I know that Dynadot has a presence on NamePros. We’re here with NamePros in partnership with them.

Todd: We have CSRs on NamePros for sure. You know, a lot of people are actually more comfortable asking questions amongst their friends on the forums than asking us directly, and we’re actually fine with that. You know, we have nothing to hide. If you have a problem and it’s our fault, you know, we’ll fix it.

We’re not gonna try to cover it up or something. So we’re perfectly happy with people discussing things on NamePros. NamePros has been partners of ours for a long time now. I think even when we just started like, you know, people were talking about us on the forums on NamePros. And you know, from a business perspective, I mean, we work with NamePros. We do ads on NamePros, occasionally when we have specials of promos. So we’re really happy with our relationship with NamePros. And I think, you know, they’re part of the ecosystem, they’re a valuable part of the ecosystem. And so we’re just… We’re very grateful that people like us on NamePros. Yeah.

Kevin: Well, it was good to meet you. It was good speaking with you. And I look forward to seeing you next year.

Todd: Thank you so much, Kevin. I really appreciate your time. [/scroll-box]

Read more...

Women in Domaining: Christa Taylor – dotTBA

In her own words, Christa describes herself as follow. “I love the business building roller coaster. The nervousness and excitement as you climb towards the first peak wondering if everything will stay on track, the adrenaline of the first stomach-churning descent, enjoying the jolts as the coaster twists and turns. Then climbing out of the seat and charging to the line-up to do it all over again.”

Mike: Christa, it sounds like you’re an entrepreneurial thrill seeker. When did you first discover this within yourself?

Christa:  I’m not sure if I’d describe myself as a thrill seeker but I certainly enjoy the creativity of new ideas and endeavors. After working in a number of start-ups, I quickly learned the that there are two types of start-up personalities, those who get a rush from having to pivot often and quickly and those who are not comfortable and running for the exit sign.

Mike: Tell me about DotTBA. What is the market like for your services?

Christa:  Since 2012, I’ve been focused on new gTLD applications, creating premium domain name lists and pricing along with launching new gTLDs. While the pool of new TLDs has been decreasing, I have used the opportunity to improve my analytical skills and am currently preparing to launch of a couple more TLDs for the spring and fall of 2018.

Christa Taylor - women in domaining

Mike: You have an impressive business background. You have been a consultant to a multitude of start-up ventures from oil exploration to collaboration software solution companies, managed million-dollar online e-commerce sites, protection of highly valued domain names and you were the President and CFO of Poker.com Inc. You have experience in the domain, software industry from small to large corporations and have provided strategic planning and vision to numerous Internet start-up ventures. All that said, do you feel you have faced any roadblocks being a woman in business and how did you work through those?

Christa:  In my opinion, everyone faces roadblocks, it’s just a matter of personal philosophy on how one responds. Some obstacles are worth overcoming while others are not worth the energy. If it’s worth the effort then being strategic on how best to jump, climb or work around the issue is key. The rest is just execution or an adjustment to the plan as required.

Mike: Are there obstacles to growth for women in domaining that are different from other businesses?

Christa:  Based on my experience, every industry is different. I think the domaining world has less obstacles primarily due to the wide diversity of backgrounds, interests and professions. Comparing it to the gaming/poker industry, the obstacles were a lot more challenging and I was pretty naïve so the learning curve was rapid and steep. Luckily, I found a group of trusted colleagues which was really beneficial and that I try to replicate in every industry I work in. I was pleasantly surprised and initially, even a little confused, by how open and helpful people were in the TLD and domaining industry. It was such a refreshing perspective to find an industry that believed it was to everyone’s best interest to work together in achieving results rather than competing against one another. I still believe there is a lot more we, as an industry, should be doing to further advance its growth, create additional synergies and capitalize on the most promising opportunities.

Mike: With all you do, including recently achieving a Master of Science in Predictive Analytics (MSPA), how do you maintain a work/life balance. Or do you?

Christa:  LOL Life? Effective time management, experience to acknowledge the limits of time and workload and when sacrifices begin to leaving lasting impacts on life. Having friends in the industry who know you’ve been sitting in an office chair for far too long and initiate an unannounced and insane running challenge always helps. ????

Mike: You have supported several TLDs in their strategic planning and operations. Do you have any particular TLDs that or stories that you are particularly fond of?

Christa:  I think the funniest story was during the application process, working around the clock with the deadline two-days away and receiving a late-night call asking if I could do one more application. I initially declined but was persuaded to take it on. I literally received a copy of the financial statements in a different language, in a currency I didn’t recognize and took a large figure, punched in an exchange rate which resulted in another large number. Figuring I did a key error, repeated it only to get the same very long number and I literally had to talk my way through the place value of the numbers (ones, tens, hundreds…) to determine the amounts. A week later, I was at a restaurant where a sporting event was on and recognized the script on the team’s jerseys which was one of the company’s subsidiaries.

Mike: I have a 16-year-old daughter who will soon be off to college and then starting a career. Woman to woman, what advice can you give her?

Christa:  Determine what attributes are integral to who you are as a person and don’t let anyone take them away. They will inevitably provide perspective on when action is required or when that energy can be used for something more beneficial.

Read more...

Morgan Linton of Bold Metrics

As promised, here is one of the videos from the NamePros library featuring Kevin Fink interviewing Morgan Linton.  Morgan was probably the second blogger I began to follow when I started dabbling in domain investing.  I really used to love the live video segment he did back in the day.  He would casually drink a glass of wine and tell people his advice on their domain names.  I missed an opportunity to join him once when he invited me to connect on the show but I had a broken mic.  Timing sucked.

In this video, you’ll hear Morgan talk about his background and his passions.  Being a domainer doesn’t mean you only focus on domains as you’ll learn in this one.  Watch the video and/or read the transcript.  Post your thoughts in the comments once you’re done.  Enjoy!

[scroll-box]Kevin: Morgan Linton joins me at NamesCon. It’s so great to see you again, Morgan. Thanks for being here with us.

Morgan: Thanks, a lot. Yeah, Kevin. Thanks for having me.

Kevin: Yeah. How is this year compared to all the other years and what’s excited you the most so far?

Morgan: Yeah, well, it’s good to see it grow. I’ve been here since it first started and definitely more people, more energy and, of course, the new GTLDs are shaking things up and becoming a bigger and bigger part of the conversation.

Kevin: So you know I have a bit of a history.

Morgan: Yeah, family history.

Kevin: That’s right. We do, we do, yeah. But we met quite a number of years ago, and you were at SONOS.

Morgan: Yes.

Kevin: And your evolution in this industry and beyond is really fascinating. I wanted to kind of briefly touch upon that. Let me know if I leave anything out.

Morgan: Sure.

Kevin: But you were at SONOS, and you started domaining, and you started a blog. And you started building up a portfolio and a supplemental income from there. And then you left SONOS, you started domaining full-time.

Morgan: Nope. I never started domaining full time. No, I’ve never aspired to be at full-time domaining. So I left SONOS and went right into starting fashion.

Kevin: That’s right, okay. So in between there though, your income started to, you know, your income in domaining started to increase exponentially.

Morgan: My internet domaining got much bigger than I had expected. So, yeah, I was making significantly more buying and selling domain names and monetizing than I was at my day job, so to speak.

Kevin: And you were a liaison to the startup community at one point as well. You’ve been in Los Angeles, and you started meeting startups, and you were helping them acquire domains.

Morgan: Yeah.

Kevin: And I want to get into that a little bit later, but then you started Fashion Metric, now Bold Metrics.

Morgan: Yeah.

Kevin: And I want to hear about this evolution into how you basically went from someone who was helping startups acquire domains to founding and running a startup.

Morgan: Yeah, yeah. Well, I mean, I think the inspiration really started when I was at SONOS. Because when I started at SONOS, there were maybe 40 people, somewhere in the 35 to 40 range and it was still like, you know, some people think like when you’re at that point, well, you must have figured stuff out. But no still a startup, still in search of product market fit, we didn’t have the product in the market. And I got to see that go from, you know, less than 50 people to over a 1,000 people during my time there and going from about 10 million funding to I think 360 million in funding.

And so seeing that growth and watching a startup scale, that for me was an incredible experience to see. But I realized I was only seeing a sliver of it because I was working and running sales organizations in Asia, Australia, Latin America, Canada. So I knew there’s like one niche of the business, but I realized like, “Wow, it’s so neat for the founders because they’re able to watch this grow and they’re able to see the entire business and how everything interacts together.” And that’s really where I got the inspiration.

I realized like, “Well I don’t know if I really want to work in a specific role in the company.” I alluded to like start a company and see what it’s like to build that team. And that was like kind of what first inspired me to do that. And then yeah, you know, being in LA at a time when the startup scene was starting to really grow and seeing a lot of that happen. And then being involved with domain names, I got to help some pretty well-known startups with the [00:03:14] names, Jay.

Kevin: That’s right. And then you and your wife, Dana, hello to her, by the way, started Fashion Metric.

Morgan: Yes.

Kevin: Can you describe sort of evolution into how that came to be and how that sort of sprouted?

Morgan: Yeah. So Dana was doing a Ph.D. at UCLA at the time. I was still at SONOS, but my SONOS stock had done pretty well, and there was a point where I could probably go on to do do something else. And kind of as we were talking about earlier, domains had also done kind of better than I expected. It kind of started as this kind of like thing on the side that I would see what happen and then it ended up making far more than I was making there, so I knew it was time to make a move.

But I had never, and this is a kind of something I always like to point out because I think there’s some people that like love domain investing and they’re like, “I’d love to do this day and night.” I’ve never really had that passion. I don’t think I have very much fun domaining day and night. I’ve never really wanted to be a full-time domainer. And so, for, me, it was like, “Well, I’d love to run a startup now.” And Dana was at a point where she was, you know, in her Ph.D. doing really interesting stuff but knew that she also wanted to do something more entrepreneurial.

And so, we actually just started going to like startup competitions. And so, I went to Lean Startup Machine which is you don’t actually build in there, you essentially like validate business models, and that’s essentially where the idea behind Fashion Metric came up. Dana had this idea for an app where if you were searching in a store for clothes and you were on your own, maybe you could take a picture of yourself and then get feedback from like a stylist that would say, “Hey, actually try this short or these pants.”

And the way that the Lean Startup methodology works is, you know, before you go out and build something, you validate like, “Would people actually use this.” And so, we went to all these clothing stores, talked to solo shoppers, people shopping on their own and said, “Hey, we’re building this app, here’s what it does, would you use it?” 90% of them said, “No, I wouldn’t use that. I don’t have an interest in taking pictures of myself and sending to a stylist.”

Kevin: So that was like fashion advice. That was that first thing, okay.

Morgan: Yeah. And so what you’re supposed to do then is, you know, understand okay, well, maybe you heap it on the problem. So we didn’t want to pivot on the use, the user is still someone shopping for clothes but we then asked them, “Okay, well, what’s the biggest problem that you have when you’re shopping for clothes?” And literally, 90% of the answers were, “It’s really hard to find stuff that fits. And boy, I wish I could shop online but everything fits differently.” And all these problems came out all around fit. And we realized well, there’s a big juicy problem that’s not really being solved in a great way online. And so went to some other startup competitions and ended up getting discovered by Mark Cuban, who pushed money into the company.

Kevin: That’s awesome.

Morgan: And, yeah, that was kind of all how it all started.

Kevin: Congratulations there.

Morgan: I didn’t quite know it was going to go all that way, but it’s…

Kevin: Backing up just a little bit before Fashion Metric, I remember throughout the years. I know that you’ve started merging into more of the startup world, you met quite a number of people, again, in Los Angeles and through some of the meetups and the community events and whatnot, startup events. Can you describe your experience as a liaison, I know at times you’ve been a broker, you’ve helped someone or startups acquire. Can you talk about the experience of working with these startups? Some of the pain points they’ve had. I know some of them have no budgets. What are some of the things, the roadblocks that you had to overcome as someone helping them acquire?

Morgan: Yeah, yeah. Well, I think there’s, you know, first off, most startup founders don’t know anything about domain names. And I think that the same is true most domain investors don’t know anything about startups and both kind of think they know something about each other. And the startups thinks that the domain investors are cyber squatters and domain investors think all the startup founders or low ballers and there’s actually a happy medium probably.

But, you know, I think for startup founders, the confusion is around, “What happens when the domain name that I want to buy is taken?” And so there’s this huge disconnect where a founder will come up with an idea for a name and then go, “I want to call my company this,” and they’ll go out and they’ll see this .com maybe it’s already taken by another company. Maybe it’s a parked page, you know, all this idea in their head of like, “Well, I should be able to get that because I came up with it and I’m going to use it.”

And they don’t know actually how to go through the process of like asking somebody via email, “Hey, what are you using this name for? Could I acquire it?” And that process is very mercurial and the domain investor community, there’s some folks that are great at responding working with startups and others that aren’t and are a little bit more abrasive.

Kevin: Right. It’s very delicate.

Morgan: And so, it’s very delicate.

Kevin: More so, almost on, well, especially the investor community. But I feel like those of you mentioned it already is a good point, just those two sides are kind of disparate ends of the spectrum.

Morgan: Yeah. You’re dealing with, you know, emotions on both sides. You have founders that are really passionate about the companies they’re building, and they’ve put a lot into coming up with this name that they feel really speaks to their company. And you have a domain owner or a domain investor that has done the same but in a different way where they have a portfolio of names and they’ve worked really hard and done the legwork and actually researching and finding the names and bidding on them and trying to get a good price.

And so, you know, it really takes both sides understanding. So I initially was working with smaller startups and names that were say under like $25,000. And for me, really what I found and the deals that I enjoyed the most were really when it was founders that were a little bit more funded and a little better understanding of like what domain names are ell for. A lot of what I did was like education about the market because most people don’t know what domain sell for. Like they don’t know that domains don’t just sell for a registration price.

They don’t know that like last week, a particular name sold for a $1 million and another name sold for [inaudible 00:08:46]. It’s like to them, that probably never happens. And so, I really focus on founders that had budgets in the six or seven figure range that really kind of had a little bit more of an understanding of, hey, and usually the conversation started, “Hey, I really want to get this name, I know it’s not going to be cheap but I’ve got a budget of, you know, $350,000 should we be able to make it work.” And that’s where you kind of have a meeting the middle for really good names.

Kevin: Sure.

Morgan: Not to say that startups obviously don’t need to buy. Bold Metrics, we bought for $3,500. We don’t have a huge budget for a name sure. And so, there’s a lot of names that are available, but I don’t think startups necessarily need brokers to help them with names in that size category because a lot they can do themselves. But it takes some education to understand how they actually do that.

Kevin: I was just going to say that. That component is sort of the missing link. I feel like, as you were talking, I’m thinking like, “There’s not really anybody out there bridging that gap.” But you certainly did and had some successes. How did you work with someone who, for instance, had a $3,500 budget but the seller or the owner was 135,000. How were able to sort of bridge that gap? Were you ever able to successfully get a startup to either take out a loan or get some more funding or capital backed, you know, for that? Or, I know sometimes there’s rev share probably share of equity.

Morgan: The Rev share profits share stuff is tough that people don’t really want to do it.

Kevin: It is.

Morgan: Equity stuff sometimes but not often times that’s also a little bit too complex. Really, a lot of times like if the budget was too low, I would usually say like, “Hey, rather than us trying to go back and forth with a domain owner, you know, why don’t we just look at names that are in your price category?” And that’s why I’ve always been a huge proponent of two-word dotcoms. That’s why we’re branded on two word dotcom.

I think those represent really great opportunities for startup founders in a sub 10,000 even sub $5,000 range. And so, what I usually say is, you know, when you want to get a bigger name, you can do it but don’t fool yourself into thinking that you can be this big juicy one word dotcom when you have like a $25,000 or less budget.

And so it’s really, a lot of it was like just coaching people into being realistic and rather than getting upset with domain owners and going, “Well, they’re asking for this ridiculous price.” Know that it’s an asset class and just like the example I always give is like, “Well, when did your parents buy their house?” They’re like, “Hold on, in the ’70s.” I’m like, “Cool, what do you think they paid for it?” “Oh, it was like $150,000.” I’m like, “What’s the house worth now, you know?” “Oh, 1.5 million.” I’m like, “Well, how would you parents see it if I said, “Look, I’ll give you $100,000 for your house?”

Kevin: It’s a great analogy.

Morgan: And so, they always go, “Oh well,…” And I’m like, “It’s the same thing. And I bet your parents like researched houses then and looked at the neighborhoods and, you know.” Domain investors don’t just randomly buy names. They research them, they put their time into it, there’s a holding cost to them, did a whole portfolio. There’s a lot of risks the domain investor takes and that sides not seen as much by startups. And so, having them see that side of the equation understand, “Okay, maybe the name you want is going to be out of your budget now, where do you start?” And getting people in more of a kind of like realistic mindset around what they can actually get for their money.

Kevin: Has anyone ever come back and maybe they had that sub $10,000 budget but they’ve come back to you and said, “We just got serious round funding for instance and then now we have X amount of dollars to play with. Let’s go after that one that we couldn’t get for ?”

Morgan: Yep, I’ve helped a number of people in that exact scenario. Yeah, yeah, we’ve got some pretty stellar names.

Kevin: So going back a little bit more in time now in terms of just your experience in the domain community. You’ve had, I was going to say handbook, that’s not the right word. But you’ve had tutorials and ebooks that you’ve made and guides that you’ve created really in the early days of your education.

Morgan: Yeah, that’s a long time since I’ve done it, but yeah, I wrote some of the early stuff.

Kevin: But it was just really not only successful just as something that was distributed and read but understood and really helpful to a lot of people. What kind of information would you impart to those that are either new to the industry or those are kind of looking in from the outside.

Morgan: Well, I always like to give anything I’ve done, whether it’s domain names or startups or started some angel investing, I always like to look at people that are already doing it. And so, for me, it was like when I got started in the domain industry, I was going to domain conferences and talking to people like Michael Berkens, Ammar Kubba and Frank Schilling and all these guys that like were way, way light-years ahead of where I was but that I could really learn from.

And I think that’s the key in any kind of education space. Like, when I wrote my book which was, geez, I don’t know, maybe eight years ago or something like that. You know, I didn’t write it as…I found there was just a problem with misinformation and sensationalism in this industry and I’ve really been very against that probably forever because, you know, this is not an easy industry to make money and this is not one of those like you just buy some domain names, and you’re going to make a bunch of money.

And I think too many books and tutorials in this space, we’re talking about like how you can strike it rich with domains, or how you can make a bunch of money with domains. When the reality is like, I don’t know, my first two years, I lost a bunch of money and learned a lot of hard lessons and then, you know, you really have to have like a budget. You need the time, there’s a lot that goes into it.

And so, for me, I really wanted to educate on like what that journey more realistically looks like versus the sensationalism of, “Look at these names that sold last week. This is sold for this, and this is sold for this. I think if you had a name like that, you could…” And rather say like, “Hey, you’re probably going to buy a bunch of stuff, and most of it’s going to suck and you’re not going to be able to sell it, you’re going to get kind of depressed.”

Kevin: Yeah, right. Good. The reality. Yeah.

Morgan: Then you’re going to drop some [cross talk 00:14:04], “Screw this stuff,” and then like…But if you stick with it and you learn, you could probably chisel out a little niche for yourself.

Kevin: Absolutely, yeah. It’s very rare that there’s sort of immediate success. Some people have that happen, especially with some of the new Gs, it does happen, but it is rare.

Morgan: Sure. Yeah. Same thing with the startup space. Like people look at startups like Airbnb or Uber, and these were not startups with just like we’re overnight successes. Like Airbnb had a very, very hard time raising a $500,000 seed round originally. Like no one would fund them when they originally had the idea, right? And so, like they went through lots of hard times and, you know, for us now, there’s a lot that we’re still figuring out. And that’s like, no matter what is it that you’re doing, any of these entrepreneurial endeavors, I don’t think anyone who tells you or any tutorial book that says there’s some like fast-track path to success, I’m always very, very skeptical of.

Kevin: Do you have other things that you would recommend to those that are new or starting out in terms of like tools or resources in this industry?

Morgan: Yeah. I would say, I mean, the number one thing is just get to a conference as soon as you possibly can. I think the amount of information exchange and networking that happen,s particularly domain conferences is pretty massive. It’s not true of every industry. Most of the conferences I go to now are like retail conferences because we sell in the retail space. That’s very different, that actually is kind of like an insider industry.

So I actually can’t really walk around those places and go like, “Hey, what do you do tell me about it?” Like, I’m not really in the club yet. It probably going to take me longer, so I’m more like kind of fly on the wall. At these conferences, I find domain investors, in general, are very interested in sharing what they do. The only thing I would say is whether it’s a conference, or a blog post, or a thread that’s going on or a form, you know, just make sure to do your homework and make sure that the person that is giving you that advice actually is who they say they are and has done what they say they’ve done.

It is very easy for people to kind of prop themselves up when they’re at a conference or when they’re writing on a blog and to say something like, “Oh I did this and…” Like, just put on your BS meter because there is a lot of BS out there. I don’t mean to say it in a negative way but more in a cautionary way of that, you know, take all the conversations that you have, do the follow-up, do the research, and then figure out.

You may even need to bounce off of people that you know, “Hey, I met this guy, and he said he’s made a killing with .nets, and he said if I just buy a bunch of these .nets, I’ll make a fortune.” And go like, “Do you know this? Can you validate that?” And just make sure because it’s an easy industry for people to come in and go, “Oh, I sold a bunch of stuff,” Because there’s no way to prove anything, right?

Kevin: Yeah.

Morgan: And so, you got to be really careful where you get information. And also, looking at the date when the information was given because there an is expiry date to, you know… Sometimes people will write to me and say like, “Oh, this blog post you wrote in 2012 is so great.” I’m like, “Be really careful with anything that I wrote five years ago.” Because if I said five years ago, here’s what I’m doing and like this is really working right now, I can almost promise you it would be a disaster if you did that now.

And that’s why the information, especially in a fast-moving space like domain investing, you got to stay on top of what’s relevant. And you have to make sure that the people giving you the advice are doing it because they’re motivated not to like make money off of you, or to make themselves so good but because they genuinely like know what they’re talking and want to help.

Kevin: Sure. Just due diligence, I think I have some yeah wise words.

Morgan: Yes.

Kevin: It’s always interesting to kind of…we’ve been around for a little while. There’s various people that have been around either 20 more years, or there’s some that have been around for 20 days.

Morgan: So you’re calling us old?

Kevin: Yeah, we’re getting old. Yeah, that’s right. But it’s always interesting for me to see how people on the outside looking in or those actually that are new. How you would describe this industry to them like if you’re on an airplane and you’re in the middle of the sea all of a sudden and, you know, ask you what you do and you have like a six-hour flight. How do you talk about this to people? This has been a really interesting thing where sometimes there’s that blank stare. Everybody says some will gives you that blank stare like…and then now there’s a bit more talk about how people are starting to kind of, the awareness is growing.

Morgan: Sure, yeah. I think it’s to be honest with you, I think these are just investors. I think that historically if you are an investor, you either invest in the stock market, or you invest in real estate. But like the internet’s been around for a while, this stuff is all evolved, and so I think it’s really just looking at domain names as a new asset class. So usually I explain to people this isn’t necessarily a bunch of startup people, or even some people are entrepreneurs, but not everyone’s really entrepreneurs even as well. It’s really investors.

And it’s just like where do you want to invest your money and whether you invest in real estate or the stock market or domain names, similar process which is educating yourself on the space and learning, “Hey, how can I make investments that give me kind of a meaningful ROI?” I think this is just possibly one of the least known investment spaces and then probably the most misunderstood.

Kevin: Morgan, thanks so much for joining us. Treasure your time, and it’s great to see you as always.

Morgan: Yeah, absolutely. Thanks so much. I appreciate it.

Kevin: Thank you.
[/scroll-box]

Read more...
women in domaining

Social media presence…contribute approximately 70% of our leads

Victoria Lee Huff is the founder and CEO of The Happy Executive.  She is an Amazon best selling author with The Road to Success, Volume 2 with Jack Canfield.  She’s a sought-after speaker, success workshop leader, executive coach, certified senior advisor, executive director and so much more.  Her company, TheHappyExecutive.com, provides professional speaking, corporate training, and executive coaching services.

Mike:  My first question which I cannot hold back is, how do you manage to do so much?  Are you also a master of productivity and time management?

Victoria:  Holding two leadership roles is a lot to manage some days.  Currently, I am transitioning out of my 10-year business and planning to dedicate 100% of my time to TheHappyExecutive.com.  I do my best to partition my time between the two entities. On a daily basis, my focus is on completing my top 3 tasks by 11 am. Time management is imperative. I also utilize automation with an electronic calendar link and social media campaigns.

Mike:  Tell me about The Happy Executive.  What type of clients do you cater to and what are they expecting to gain from your services?

Victoria:  TheHappyExecutive.com provides strategic marketing, coaching, speaking, sales training, team building, custom workshops and social media campaign building services to corporations and individuals.

Mike:  thehappyexecutive.com is an easy to remember and catchy name.  How did you come up with it?

Victoria: Thank you Mike.  I created TheHappyExecutive.com to serve myself and other busy executives doing their best to juggle a multitude of responsibilities at work and at home.  Often times, this juggling leads to a persistent state of overwhelm. Being a leader and enduring life is not acceptable. I wanted to remind other busy executives to enjoy life and create happiness for themselves and their staff every day.  If we are not happy with the way things are then we must learn to do some things differently.

Mike:  I see you leverage social media.  How much does that contribute to your business?  

Victoria:  Currently our social media presence and campaigns contribute approximately 70% of our leads. The other 30% are sourced from networking events and speaking engagements.

Mike:  I also spotted a before and after picture on your Twitter account.  Wow, even the before pic looks great.  Are you also a fitness trainer?

Victoria: Thank you Mike. I am not a fitness trainer, just a fitness competitor. Within all of our coaching engagements, strategies are discussed and agreed upon to help executives meet and exceed their health goals.

Mike:  Although you are not running an online store, it appears that your business niche depends heavily on your website and word of mouth.  Is that a fair statement?

Victoria: Yes, that is a fair statement. We will be adding an online store with various e-learning opportunities this year. Besides our web site and personal referrals, we are building joint ventures and affiliate programs.

Mike:  What is the most challenging aspect of developing your professional persona online?

Victoria:  The most challenging aspect is the differentiation in a crowded marketplace. It is important to narrow your niche focus to about an inch wide and a mile deep vs. a mile wide and an inch deep. It is within this narrow space that our avatars are identified. We also learn where and when to meet our avatars online.

If you like this post and want to sponsor it on Domaining.com, click HERE.

Read more...
Women in Domaining

Women in Domaining: Kathy Nielsen – Neustar

Kathy’s digital career began in online advertising sales and management with BabyZone.com, a company that was eventually acquired by Disney. Her next adventure was to help build a group of content properties under a family of ecommerce sites owned by the eToys.com umbrella (Poshtots.com and BabyUniverse.com). In 2008 she joined Sedo as their Director of Brokerage. During her time at Sedo she served as Director of Strategic Alliances, then Director and VP of Business Development.

With a growing affection for new gTLD industry, she joined a domain name registry, .Green, as Executive Director of Operations and Channel Relations to help prepare .Green for the public launch. Today she works with Neustar, continuing to help educate consumers about domains, building and executing marketing programs, managing channel partnerships and developing premium name sales and auction strategy. She is active on the end user side as well, supporting several clients in domain acquisitions and helping them build domain name strategies.

Mike: How long have you been in the domain industry? Tells about your start at BabyZone.com.

Kathy: I’ve been in the domain industry since January 2010 and got my start with Sedo. But it was my work at BabyZone that really introduced me to the world of online publishing. It was the very early days of online advertising so a main component of my work there was educating about the benefits of online advertising to businesses that didn’t understand how powerful it could be to reach new customers and grow a business. We had a portfolio of directory type websites where each major city had a home on Babyzone.

I started out in my home town of Minneapolis at Babyzone.com, on the ground floor, selling online advertising to local businesses. The amazing part was seeing how some of the small businesses, like a baby photographer, could buy an inexpensive, yearly listing on our site, and it resulted in so many leads that they had to expand their business. I saw many companies that took a chance, dabbled in online advertising in those early days, who grew to be very successful. There were also major, national advertisers as well on Babyzone, but what I found most satisfying was seeing the impact that an increased online presence and traffic had on the smaller businesses.
I was lucky enough to be offered a job in Boston to come and build a network of regional ad sales reps and grow the revenue for Babyzone’s local sites.

Mike: You’ve played several roles in the business and at different companies. Did you ever feel that being a woman somehow put you at a disadvantage?

Kathy:  I never used to think about it much but have reflected on that a bit more recently. I am the youngest of 6 kids and my 5 older siblings are all boys. I grew up in a world where I was always in that mix and it seemed natural to me. One of my first jobs out of college was at an industrial tool manufacturing company. I remember many challenging times there because I was a woman. I can’t say it ever affected promotions, pay, etc. but there was certainly a disadvantage. Working in that male-dominated workplace environment was awful. It was constant – inappropriate behavior all the time that created a such a bad environment. Being subjected to that environment every day just wears on you emotionally and all I really wanted to do was work. Maybe I was too young to feel any fear, but I never thought it was OK or that it was normal because it was a male dominated industry. I always spoke my mind if anyone crossed the line. I’m not sure how I came across on that front, but if nothing else, I definitely helped raise awareness of the issues at that company and there was positive change.

Today, I’m extremely fortunate working with Neustar. I am on an absolutely fantastic team of highly motivated people, many of which are women. I greatly value each and every one, it’s probably the most motivating team I’ve ever worked with.

Mike: Have you had one or more mentors in your career? How has that helped?

Kathy:  A few people come to mind immediately. Tim Schumacher at Sedo was really the first person in my career that was great at encouraging me to try new things, knowing I would succeed with some and fail at others but in the end, learn and grow.

I have to say that the women in the domain industry have always been very incredibly supportive and open. If I ever have a question or want to float an idea by someone, I have this built in network of very talented people, in all areas of the industry, and that has been invaluable.

The two I look up to the most and from whom I have learned so much, come from the launch days of .co. I was fortunate enough to work with Lori Anne Wardi and Crystal Peterson during the launch of .co while I was at Sedo. They are fearless, smart and did a wildly successful job with .co. In the years between, they were always right there if I ever needed advice or support in any way. They have both grown into much larger roles in the industry and I’m lucky enough to be working with them today at Neustar. Grateful!

Mike: After all your success this far, what struggles do you face on a daily basis?

Kathy:  Ha! It’s been the same for a long time.
#1 reaching the target audience
#2 explaining the value prop of a domain – such a basic thing but so many different answers to this based on who you are speaking to.
#3 the slow pace of change in a niche, ecommerce world.

There are honestly so many amazing naming options out there for businesses, individuals, organizations, and everyone in between. From super premium names, to great new descriptive domains, to category killers, brandable names and more, there really is something for everyone. The trick at the ecommerce level is understanding the intent of the individual user and helping to present the best and most meaningful options to them. Today, that experience is so different in the domain world depending on where you shop, and every sales outlet has vast amounts of room for improving in the future. Luckily, we’ve got technology on our side and things like machine learning and AI should be able to play an increasing role in improving that domain buying experience for the consumer in the future.

Mike: What is the biggest challenge, if any, that millennial women face in the industry or business in general?

Kathy:  I have always worked in very male dominated industries but felt comfortable and fit in – probably due to my life growing up with five older brothers. But I never really felt like it was OK to just be me, a girl. This wasn’t a conscious decision, it just happened. Since I worked mostly with men, I always felt like I had to act more like one of the guys, just like I was with my brothers. When I worked with women, it was a totally different atmosphere and a refreshing change but then I found myself wishing there were some men on the team to balance out the dynamics.

As I began to work in more diverse teams with more of a gender balance, I saw the different dynamics at work and it was amazing. More personalities, more backgrounds, more (or fewer) egos at play – the diversity of the team brings a more open set of eyes to topics. It makes all the work we do simply better.

The importance of diverse and balanced teams can’t be understated. I’d encourage millennial women to seek them out. If you go on a job interview and don’t see any women in the company, or in leadership roles, that’s a big red flag. In the world of technology, it’s not easy to be balanced. Seek out those companies who value diversity. Help and support other women in technology so that they too can thrive and succeed in the industry. This will ultimately create a positive working environment for everyone. Don’t hold back, be yourself. Don’t ever stop learning, speak up, ask questions, participate, engage and bring your diversity to the table.

Mike: You seem like a busy woman, working both sides of the fence when it comes to domaining. How do you manage to keep a healthy work life balance?

Kathy: Personal and family time are both really important to me. Outside work and school, we’re very laid back and not a heavily scheduled family. I’m not running from work to take the kids to soccer, then hockey, then somewhere else like a lot of families do. We all pitch in to make the work/life balance work for us. My kids, my husband, all have busy lives, and we respect each other and help each other. Sometimes, you just need a break. We know its ok if you just feel like doing absolutely nothing on a Saturday or Sunday but binge watch a show or lay in bed and read all day. We also like to do things together like travel, go to a museum, a concert, a play, a soccer game, snowboard, hike, mountain bike, etc. Making time to get out together and experience new things is a big part of keeping our balance.

Mike: What would you say has been the biggest advance in the domain industry over the past decade and why?

Kathy:  I think the biggest advance has been with the registrars and their advances in ecommerce. Before they could sell one TLD, at one price, period. They can now offer more products (TLDs), at variable pricing, from a wide variety of sellers (aftermarket premiums, registry premiums, standard domains). This is great because it makes it so much easier for the consumer to find what they want in one place. It’s not complicated. There is still a lot of progress to be made but I’m optimistic that competition and innovation will drive more change.

Mike: What has been the toughest decision you have had to make in your. Domaining career?

Kathy:  Leaving Sedo. Sedo is a great company full of people I really enjoyed working with. Moving on to new challenges is always difficult but also rewarding.

Read more...

Dial-a-Domain – Is that opportunity calling?

In the late 1980’s David Fesbinder had a vision of the great potential of vanity 800 numbers. He founded Dial 800 (Dail800.com), a company whose list of clients includes AT&T, Chevrolet, Cox Communications, Waste Management, The Perrier Group, Electronic Arts, Northrop Grumman and Time Warner. He was responsible for the acquisition of 1-800-COLLECT, the most successful vanity number in history. David is now with 1800PayPerCall.com.

Mike:  How did you stumble upon vanity numbers in the 80’s and what made you think this could be a big deal?

David:  In the late 1980’s, even though few companies at the time were using vanity 800 numbers, I saw the trend to use them increasing.  Also, in the early 1990’s a new law allowed one to move their toll-free numbers from one carrier to another.  This was a big change, since a toll-free number that was previously restricted to service with a carrier in one state,  could now be moved to a national carrier like AT&T.

Mike:   Switching from the 80’s to the 90’s, I could see the natural transition (at least in hindsight) into domain names, or in this case, complementary domain names.  How did you identify this bridge?

David:   It only made sense to integrate both domains with their matching numbers.

Mike:  How has pairing vanity numbers and domain names been working out.  Can you provide some examples?

David:   A lot depends on the industry your speaking of.   But, even if a particular industry does not commonly use vanity 800 numbers, having a good one that matches their domain looks impressive.  Especially today, when there is a natural suspicion as to whether a particular online company is legitimate, having a toll-free number that matches their domain name can be an indication that this company is not fly by night.
In the right industry, a vanity 800 number can be the nucleus of a startup.  Look at 1-800-FLOWERS, 1-800-DENTIST, 1-800-CONTACTS to name a few.  In their case, the vanity number may be more valuable than the actual domain name.

Mike:   When a business gets a matching domain and number, you are essentially providing them with branding.  Is that an unintentional byproduct?

David:   A great vanity toll-free number is one that tells you what you selling, who you are and how to reach you, such as 1-800-COLLECT did.    An 800 toll-free number that spells the exact generic name of a sought-after service or product is extremely valuable.  For instance, a company like 1-800-FLOWERS is not only a leader in their industry but when their competition advertises, they cannot help but mention “flowers”, which inevitably strengthens 1-800-FLOWERS brand.

Mike:  Is the growth of the internet, in any way, diminishing the value of vanity names or phone numbers in general?

David: Definitely.  Phone numbers were really the only way to immediately contact a business before the internet.   On the other hand, today where competition is so fierce between online businesses, those a matching vanity 800 number can now have an edge.   And the bottom line is that an inquiry via phone, which means the caller wants direct contact with a salesperson, is considered much more valuable than an inquiry made online.

Mike:  I understand you provide tracking, routing, and analysis of these phone numbers as well.  What does that mean and what does that provide for your clients?

David:   Shared use or call routing can provide a very valuable tool for integrating national marketing with local marketing.   For instance, we have the number 1-800-PODIATRIST which can be promoted via our domain 1-800-PODIATRIST.com.  When any call is made in the U.S., it is automatically routed to the podiatrist located closest to him.  In effect, we could give hundreds of podiatrists exclusive rights to 1-800-PODIATRIST in their local area, and the leads are generated from just one national ad campaign.

Call tracking and other types of analysis can give you detailed insights into how to optimize your ad campaigns, caller satisfaction, etc..

Mike:  One major risks businesses face is not keeping up with the ever-changing trends.   Is there another emerging technology you are watching for or thinking about for the future?

David: Perhaps SullysBlog.com is at the forefront of a trend right now by bringing to the attention of your followers what are the great advantages of a matching number/domains.  I would like to give you an example of how far this concept can go.  We have 1-800-2Day-Air and 2DayAir.com as well as 1-800-Free-Offer and 1800FreeOffer.com.  Since these are already well known generic brands, it should not take much marketing to have such numbers/domains go viral.

This is a new approach to the creation of a startup in that we’re working backward, starting with an already known brand that is represented by a matching number/domain.

If you like this post and want to sponsor it on Domaining.com, click HERE.

Read more...

Women in Domaining: Natasa Djukanovic, CMO of Domain.ME

An economist by education, Natasa Djukanovic is the CMO of Domain.ME, the international tech company that operates the internet domain “.ME.” She’s spent her entire career at the intersection of banking, social media, leadership and technology, and is constantly trying to figure out the secret to being in three different places at the same time.

Natasa is also a co-founder of a local NGO Digitalizuj.me which is a not-for-profit organisation that examines the transformative power of technology through various projects and lectures.

Through her effort to help the community she started with her friends a conference Spark.me, which is today one of the biggest tech/business conferences in Southeast Europe.

I last connected with Natasa back in 2011, so it’s long past due that we catch up.

Mike:  Natasa, it’s been quite a while since I last interviewed you.  What has changed for you and dot ME since 2011?

Natasa: Well, everything changed. And yet, nothing changed. We managed to almost reach the long term goals we established at that time. For us at the time the most important goal was to create a strong and safe brand. We did a brand health research in 2017 and were quite please to see that we are perceived as a strong and reliable brand. The numbers are quite as we expected, we survived the big turbulence of the market called new TLDs, mostly unshaken, and kept the profit. I have, in the meantime, grew old and mature :), although always strategically focused, now a little bit more flexible and adjustable. I started mountaineering and that activity gave me a completely different perspective on business, leadership and changing environment.

Mike:  Is there a woman that inspires you as a business leader, either in or outside of the domain industry?

Natasa:  She is more a combination of different women with their strength and their fragility, their determination and their emotionality. My inspiration is a combination of Marisa Meyer, Sheryl Sandberg, Merrill Streep, my mom, my aunt and my daughter. And they are all different, with all of their virtues and faults.

Mike:  You’ve been asked to speak, and have spoken, at several different events and business around the world.  What does that mean to you?

Natasa: I had a big fear of public speaking. My voice would tremble and it would sound like I am crying. It was embarrassing. I was determined to fight that fear, like I am fighting any fear. I am very proud to say I am over that, and people started calling me to give motivational speeches. It feels good now, because the feedback is good and it seems to me that I help people define certain fears in their pursuit for better life.

Mike:  Not only are you CMO of Domain.ME, but you also have other causes such as Digitalizuj.me and Spark.me.  Tell me about these organizations and how do you balance this all?

Natasa: Digitalizuj.me (digitize.me in translation) is an NGO that I founded with a couple of friends back in 2011 with the goal of helping the local Montenegrin community educate for new technologies. Today we employ 3 people, and have a joint project with UNICEF around creativity and entrepreneurship for children. It is recognized in Montenegro as a startup community, an organizer of workshops after which you can find a job, and lately educator in programming. Spark.me is a conference, sponsored and organized by the .ME registry. I am always afraid I am too enthusiastic and subjective about it, but I’ll tell you that 500 people come every year from all over the region, and stay in the conference room for 8 hours straight. The conference happens in a hotel at the beach and there is sun outside, it’s a sandy beach and the sea is light blue. But everybody is listening to the presentations. And the world renown speakers keep coming back. My balance is strictly connected to great team around me. I can rely on them, and they can rely on me.

Mike:  Do you feel you have faced any challenges in your career over the years due to the fact that you are a women?  How have you overcome them?

Natasa: Montenegro is a very patriarchal community, but women here were always working and had an opportunity to build careers. My aunts were some of the most successful people in my home town, and I am raised with the feeling that women can do everything a man can do, from chopping wood to managing a company, raising kids, and taking care of their man. There is a saying here that a man is a head of the house, but the woman is a neck. And that is true. In many ways it places a special burden on women in Montenegro, but it also opens many doors. My aunts made fun of me and my housework choirs, as I never liked to cook. On the other side when I started working, I started managing projects very early and when I entered a meeting once, the business partner who sat at the table asked me for coffee. He taught I was a coffee lady. I brought him coffee and sat close to him and started asking questions and kept insisting we can’t accept his conditions in a deal we were trying to arrange. He was very confused at first, and then started laughing at his mistake. I overcome these perceptions by accepting them first. Yes I can be a coffee lady. But then if you are decisive and persuasive enough you can turn that in opportunity. I am not saying it’s easy for every women if they are strong enough. For some of them life is much harder.

Mike:  What impact have the new gTLDs had on .ME, if any, and what has been your marketing strategy to stay competitive?

Natasa: Of course new gTLDs had an impact on .ME. Mostly in terms of the price on a domain, which means revenue. Their marketing strategies shook up the market. It did give some kind of global awareness on domains, but in the end, I think it all calmed down, and didn’t change much. Our strategy certainly didn’t change much. We were perceived as somebody who changed the industry and we just kept doing different and creative things to stay on top. Both with end customer marketing and the relations with registrars. I think the industry is much more alive and energetic today.

Mike:  Do you consider yourself a mentor to any women in the industry?

Natasa: Not in the industry. Not really. I do mentor, however, startups and have some women that I mentor in Montenegro, and help them around marketing and business management. I am very proud of their achievements.

Read more...

Exclusive Interview with Lars of DNForum.com

I want to say it was Garmin running shamer, pro-blogger, and green-thumber Shane Cultra who first dropped the news about the new owners of DNForum.  Shortly after there was a mixed buzz on social media and blog comments reflecting the reaction of the domain community.  Some were delighted that some hope was being infused back into the once unparalleled forum while others were less optimistic about its future or even returning to visit the forum under new management.

Lars gave me a little insight into the reason behind the acquisition and the direction the forum plans to take.  I can appreciate his realistic view on what it will take to change course and his optimism that he and his partners, along with the help of the domain community, can make it happen.

Mike:  I have not been an an active part of DNForum.com in the past, but what can be expected as the forum continues on?

Lars: In the past DNForum.com was the go-to place for professional domain investors to talk and trade domain names. Our goal is to expand and develop on that past and to provide a safe and filtered forum experience focused on quality content.

Mike:  Taking on a forum in any industry is a huge responsibility.  What made the three of you decide to tackle this?

Lars: Each of us have been paid members of DNForum.com for a great many years and carry a lot of affection for the place. As such it was a pain to follow its downward slope into oblivion and its turbulent changes in management in recent years. When the chance offered itself to purchase the place we could not let it go and jumped on it. Further we believe in the potential for righting the ship and that DNForum.com can be a healthy business again.

Mike:  There has been a little bit of a mixed buzz around the forum. Blogger surveys, post comments, etc.  Some folks wishing you good luck and suggesting this is the right move while others not as pleased.  How do you react to the domaining public on this?  Do you have some PR barriers to overcome with perception and how do you plan to do that?

Lars: Realistically speaking the image of DNForum.com is at an all time low. The interest, traffic and content was allowed to leave and certain events in the past also rubbed off a bit of the previous shine. But the good news is that its hard to go much lower from here. To go into a head to head argument with DNForum.com’s detractors would be counterproductive and frankly we don’t want to begin our fresh start with an argument. Further we are firm believers in showing by doing, so we will be trying our best to prove them wrong by holding true to our plans for DNForum.com. Luckily the buzz also included a great many DNForum.com veterans and supporters which has helped us getting business back to the site almost from day one of the takeover.

Mike:  It sounds like some people “grew up” on DNForum and learned much of what they know about domaining there.  What do you see in the forum that others might not?  What is it that makes sense about “saving” this forum as opposed to walking away or trying to create a new one from scratch?

Lars: It is exactly that. It has a history of being the place to talk and trade domains in the professional sphere of the industry. A place where, if you were willing to listen, you could pick up a lot of great knowledge and in the marketplace; actual great domain deals. The site has a lot of cache amongst industry veterans even with its recent turbulent history and still has a lot of business potential from a branding stand point.

Further in our industry it does not hurt us to operate under the category killer domain name of our niche.

Mike:  You have listed several short and longer term goals in your initial announcement.  Are these thoughts that the three of you came up with based on what you feel needs to be done or was there any user input involved?

Lars: I have to take responsibility for the currently proposed strategy. I have a clear vision of where I think we need to take DNForum.com to re-establish it as a staple of our industry. Going forward we will be asking our community for input on what they would like to see happen at DNForum.com and we will be open for community suggestions. If we find them viable and they fit into the plans we have for DNForum.com.

Mike:  What is your measurement for success?  How will you know if you are succeeding and how long do you anticipate it will take to see results?

Lars: Naturally we look at financial profitability as one of the chief measurements of our success. We hope to get DNForum.com in the green within 3 months of the takeover. But to achieve that we need to reinvigorate our user base and bring them back to table to deliver the quality content DNForum.com needs to flourish. So we really look at user activity as a key performance indicator, we want to bring back our investor crowd to create a working marketplace with no fees for domain name resellers.

Mike:  What do you to critics of the paid membership model?  Are their other alternatives to generating income on a forum?

Lars: Well for us its not the revenue aspect that is interesting. If we wanted to focus on membership revenue we would go the subscription route instead and not offer lifetime memberships for a one time payment. If we are very lucky the paid memberships will almost cover the server costs. It will never do much more than pay the base bill.

The reason we need a paid membership model is because it allows the more serious voices better access to promoting their content. We think that by limiting the noise that free access to markets often create, we create a higher quality offering.

Mike:  Anything you would like to add?:

Lars: We would love to see you back at DNForum.com or come for your first visit. In the upcoming weeks and months we will be; fixing old stuff that was broke or missing, sprucing up the design to create a fresh feel, introducing a number of new partnerships and benefits for our paid members and down the line also introducing new functionalities to our board. To make it happen we need all the help we can get and hope you will be a part of it.

If you like this post and want to sponsor it on Domaining.com, click HERE.

Read more...

Squeeze.com – Importance of a single keyword domain name

I recently had the opportunity to have a quick, yet valuable exchange with Brent Campbell, COO of Squeeze.com.  Brent is known as being passionate about building successful companies and making the people around him better.  He makes careful well-thought-out decisions supported by data and analytics.  He is driven by a winning attitude and a desire for the team to win as a whole.

Mike:  I’ve heard Squeeze referred to as a “disruptive fintech app.”  Tell me more about Squeeze and why is it disruptive?

Brent:  Squeeze.com is a comparison engine that goes to work for the consumer by tackling your recurring expenses. We compare it all, from mortgages to mobile plans and everything in between. Whether you’re looking to purchase your first home or just shave a few bucks off your internet bill, Squeeze has your back. We have been referred to as the Travelocity or Expedia for your recurring bills.

Mike:  The domain name is a great one, a single keyword, generic domain name.  Can you tell me how this domain has helped with your branding?

Brent:   Squeeze is such a brilliant word for branding. We are trying to visualize the idea of savings, which is essential to all consumers.  Having Squeeze.com,  a single keyword domain name is vital for a startup trying to make its mark.

Mike:  How does the site generate revenue and how do you plan to expand that in the near future? 

Brent:  Our revenue model is performance marketing based. We allow the user to access free information and tools that will enable them to make better buying decisions. Companies are telling consumers to “Switch” every day. We earn revenue if they switch on Squeeze.com.

Mike:  How did the company acquire the name?  Can you share the purchase price and/or the process you went through to acquire the name?

Brent:  We negotiated off and on for about two years until we felt it was time to pull the trigger. The company that owned Squeeze.com was FUTURE MEDIA ARCHITECTS, INC. We negotiated through uniregistry.com, and we finally got to a point where we felt there was value. They started at $300k, and we ended up a little over six figures.

Mike:  How does one go about getting partners or companies willing to work with a new startup?  I think that’s a challenge many starts face.  How did you overcome this?

Brent:  You have to be persistent and build relationships. Building a startup is never easy, but if you work hard enough and find the right talent, anything is possible.

Mike:  What in your past has best prepared you for where you are at in the business world today?

Brent:   Having great mentors and coaches. Jim Rohn said it best, “You’re The Average Of The Five People You Spend The Most Time With.”

If you like this post and want to sponsor it on Domaining.com, click HERE.

Read more...

Women in Domaining: Kate Buckley, Buckley Media Group

This is the first article in what I am looking to add as a weekly series highlighting women in the domain industry.  This week kicks off with Kate Buckley.  Kate was kind enough to share information on her business, philosophy, and the topic of women in the industry.

Kate Buckley is the founder and CEO of Buckley Media Group.  Kate has 23 years in marketing and business development, with deep experience in global domains, brand development, naming, creative strategy, storytelling, and social media. Her background includes large branding agencies (Gray and Landor) as well as 20 years experience with premium domains (CCIN/The Castello Brothers). She is an expert at premium domain consulting and representation, specializing in ultra-premium .COMs. She had two of the 20 biggest domain sales reported in 2016 and three of the top 25 sales in 2017 (led by Refi.com at $500,000). Most recently, she sold inspection.com for $335,000. Kate holds a BA in Advertising/PR, an MFA in Creative Writing, and is a Certified Professional Coach (LCIOC) and Public Speaker (AMA). She is also an award-winning poet, writer and artist (KateBuckley.com).

Mike:  It seems your company, Buckley Media Group, does much more than domain sales.  Can you tell us more about what you bring to the market?

Kate:  I’m a student of human nature, and convinced that the keys to success include not only intelligence, intuition, hard work and tenacity, but a genuine curiosity and a willingness to remain teachable and open. I’m continually evolving my understanding and iterating my processes in order to better serve my client base. To that end, I believe a holistic branding platform better serves companies. Buckley Media Group offers services such as naming, brand story and strategy, visual brand identity, and, of course, premium domain representation—both acquisition and divestiture.

Mike:  I notice you have writers and directors on your staff, which led me to The Story Corp.  Is that a distinct and separate business?

Kate: The Story Corp (and I was thrilled to land the exact match .COM) is a vertical of Buckley Media Group, concentrating on brand story. Let’s face it, with the increasing implementation of AI, computers do math better than people and digital marketing is essentially math. What differentiates a marketer or brand? Storytelling. A good brand story that connects with the end user on a meaningful basis. Which is exactly what a premium domain does—tells a story about the brand that utilizes it—its culture, values (think: leadership and longevity) and investment in consumer trust and ease of use.

Mike: As a female business owner, what do you think is the most significant barrier to female leadership?

Kate: Not being taken seriously. Misogyny and mansplaining is alive and well. I’ve been referred to derogatorily (by a known domainer and entrepreneur) as “that girl from Buckley Media Group.” Can you imagine referring to a 43-year-old male CEO as “that boy from Company X”? Another male domainer on a public forum, in reference to one of my larger reported sales, opined that my success could be ascribed to my gender and appearance. There are many attractive women and men in business (and domaining!), but without expertise, emotional intelligence, strategy, and skill, it’s really just “Congratulations on your face.”

However, there’s a bright side to being underestimated; one might even call it a woman’s greatest advantage in business—you’ll never see us coming till we’re already over the ramparts. Come from a place of confidence, passion, and strength, don’t give energy to detractors and you will win every single time.

Mike:  Do you feel, in your experience, that there are a good mix of males and females in the domain name industry?

Kate: It’s getting better. Back in the day, I was often the only woman at industry events save wives. At the most recent NamesCon, I was delighted to observe many women in attendance, and turning out in full force for the Women in Domaining dinner. It was also fun to catch up with female colleagues—comparing notes and best practices, and supporting one another’s success. Yet, I was recently at an industry event in which a male domain veteran yanked open the back of my dress and peered down my back asking if I had a “tramp stamp.” It took every ounce of my finishing school training not to practice my martial arts. We’ve come a long way, but not far enough.

There are tremendous opportunities for talented women to stake their claim in the domain name industry, and—happily—there are many wonderful and supportive colleagues, both male and female, ready to welcome them to the ranks.

Mike:  You’ve been in the industry for some time.  Tell me what it was like in the early days, working with the Castello Brothers.

Kate: Fun. I was recruited by David and Michael Castello in 1998 to help them take PalmSprings.com to the next level (David had done the initial launch in 1997). It was a thrilling time—the wild west of our industry—David and I would literally stay up all night researching and registering domain names! I learned a lot from David and Michael—they are both visionaries; respect them tremendously, and am very proud of our track record. At one point, with just David and myself monetizing PalmSprings.com, we had the homepage alone doing $1M a year (which was unheard of at the time). We then went on to launch LagunaBeach.com together, which I later sold for the Castello Brothers for $600K. Not a bad ROI.

It’s been fascinating to watch the industry mature, and to watch the public perception catch up with what we’ve known all along—quality .COMs are a critical and indispensable business driver, not merely a novelty.

Mike:  Is there still room for new players in the domain industry, or is it saturated?  What is your advice to someone looking to start a career in the industry, regardless of gender?

Kate: There’s always room for someone smart, hungry, tenacious and strategic. Combine that with integrity, compassion and emotional intelligence, and the cream will always rise to the top.

Read widely and agnostically. Avail yourself of the tremendous industry resources out there. There are so many generous people in our industry who regularly share their time, knowledge and expertise—Ron Jackson, Elliott Silver, Andrew Alleman, Michael Cyger and yourself, just to name a few. Figure out what works and then add your own unique spin to it—iterate as you evolve, and and don’t be afraid to pivot. There’s never a one-size-fits-all approach. Solve interesting problems and lead. Be generous. And above all, if you’re not passionate about this industry, quit. The top performers are those who are curious, passionate and confident in their abilities.

Mike:  What is the best piece of business advice you have been given and why?

Kate: “Listen more than you speak. Seek first to understand, last to be understood. Life is for service.” —B. F. Buckley IV (AKA my dad)

If I am not listening, if I am not curious, do not come to the table with humility and teachability, I cannot effectively solve problems for my clients (and for the companies to whom I sell) because I won’t have truly understood their pain points. Success is a byproduct of having solved a problem that no one else has been able to solve before. You can’t do that if you already believe you have all the answers.

Mike: Finally, you have a powerful quote on your website that reads, “Not having a dot-com Signals weakness.” –PAUL GRAHAM,  FOUNDER OF Y COMBINATOR.”  What does that mean for what we are still calling the “new” gTLDs?

Kate: New gtlds are fine for B2B or bootstrapped startups that later plan to upgrade to a .COM. Premium domains are for companies who want their brands to be taken seriously, even revered; who want to achieve brand notoriety—woven into the fabric of the culture for decades to come.

If you like this post and want to sponsor it on Domaining.com, click HERE.

Read more...

Emoji Domains – What do you think?

Emoji domains did not capture me at it’s introduction nor has it become one of my passions.  But hell, domaining didn’t capture me at its introduction either, which is why people call me “Sully” and not “The Domain King.”  So I am not passing any judgement.  I reached out to these three entrepreneurs after seeing numerous tweets about emoji domains and I wanted to learn more about them.  Fellow blogger Alvin Brown dug into this back in January, and did a great job of uncovering information.  But, as always, I have questions of my own.  Let me kick things off by stating for the record that I don’t own a single emoji name… yet.

Emoji Empires is made up by its three co-founders, Michael Rasmussen, Eric Thoni, and Tanner Schenck.  The three partners have collaborated on this interview as they wanted it to come across as one voice.  That voice is Emoji Empires.

Mike:    As co-founders, how did the three of you meet and what brought you together on this mission?

Emoji Empires:  After attending elementary, middle, and high school together, we went our separate ways to some of the nations top institutions, obtaining degrees in various specialties to include; International Business, Marketing & Advertising, and Business Economics. After college, we made our way into respective jobs, putting our college degrees to use, but always possessing a passion for entrepreneurism.

The concept and introduction to Emoji domains was made by good friend and successful Emoji domain investor, Matan Israeli. After much consideration and planning, we instantly saw a huge opportunity for Emoji domains as a new powerful marketing tool to promote brands and businesses. Emoji Empires was founded in search of innovative marketing and branding strategies on the forefront of technology and communication. We believe Emoji Empires was our perfect entrance into entrepreneurism and introducing the world to something meaningful and ‘bigger than ourselves.’ We have attended multiple domain conferences to introduce Emoji Empires and spread the idea of Emoji domains to industry professionals and the world. We have received great feedback and ideas from many different individuals, which has continued to drive us on this new and uncharted path.

Mike: I haven’t really followed the emoji domain trend until now.  When did it begin and how is the growth?

Emoji Empires:  Emoji Empires began registering Emoji domains as early as January 2017, when we saw the unique and innovative opportunity to bring change to the domain industry. Emoji Empires was one of the first large portfolio owners involved with Emoji domains, with a couple others scattered throughout the world. After a couple months of holding our domains and waiting on potential buyers, we realized that this was going to be much different than the current domain resale market. Emoji Empires has been focused on the education and promotion of  Emoji domains, as we believe it will benefit all Emoji domain portfolio investors, companies, and individuals.  Currently the emoji domain market is saturated with sales between domain investors. Emoji Empires has a different business approach with our unique contacts and networking capabilities, we have successfully educated, promoted, and marketed emoji domains to end users. The growth of emoji domains are only inevitable due to the growing increase of usage via messaging and social media. Emojis are not going away anytime soon as they are everywhere.

The earliest registration of emoji domains began in 2001. On April 19, 2001, the first three emoji domains were registered. The process of registering an emoji domain back in 2001 was a very complicated process that very few knew how to do. In 2001, emoji popularity as we see them being used today was nonexistent. Reason being the Iphone did not make its debut until 2005 when emojis made their worldwide debut. So the early adopters is not where the trend begins because only a few individuals had the idea to combine emoji with domains. The emoji domain space really took off n 2015, when Coca-Cola launched a South American advertising campaign using www. ????.ws. In 2016, John Roig launches ❤❤❤.ws, which provided an easy to use platform for registering emoji domains that once was a strenuous process.

Mike:  Tell me about your emoji consulting service.  What are some examples of how you help businesses?

Emoji Empires:  We provide Emoji domain consulting for companies and brands who are unfamiliar with Emoji and are looking to integrate them into their new or current marketing strategy.  Emoji Empires also provides marketers with domain support, best practices for social media, and development of strategies on how to use an Emoji domain to maximize its potential.

We currently have multiple companies involved in our “Try Before You Buy” program; which allows businesses to use any of our domains in our portfolio to ‘test’ the domain out to see if it works within their companies vision and goals. We have received great feedback on this program, as it provides a new and exciting tool for companies to ‘try’ Emoji domains and it doesn’t require any payment or long-term contracts.

Mike:  How do emoji domains really work?  What happens if new emojis are created?  Don’t different platforms, take smartphones for example, use different emojis?

Emoji Empires: “Each emoji character is represented by some universal sequence of characters called Unicode, which is an international programming standard that allows one operating system to recognize text from another operating system.” (http://unicode.org/emoji/). When you type (????????.ws) into your web browser, the browser translates the emoji portion of the domain name into its IDN (in this case xn--2p8h30a.ws), looks up the domain name system information, and then loads the associated website. In this case we are using that Emoji domain as a 301 redirect to our primary website www.emojiempires.com.

Indeed, new emojis are created every year through a governed and strict process of the Unicode consortium, which is made up of large companies, as well as individuals including the three co-founders of Emoji Empires. “The Unicode Consortium is a non-profit corporation devoted to developing, maintaining, and promoting software internationalization standards and data, particularly the Unicode Standard, which specifies the representation of text in all modern software products and standards.” Every year Unicode introduces about 100-150 new Emoji characters.  Once Unicode sets the new ‘standard’ every company that offers an Emoji keyboard (Apple, Google, Facebook, Windows, Samsung, etc.) must then design their version of that Emoji character. The important thing to note is that regardless of the platform or operating system mentioned above, the underlying code & domain name are consistent across all platforms. So, ????????.ws will always be xn--2p8h30a.ws regardless of the device or platform being used. You can see the full Unicode list here.

Mike:  Do you have any data or examples around resale of premium emoji names?

Emoji Empires:  Mike Cyger (DNAcademy) has compiled a detailed guide to Emoji domains which includes a list of “premium” emoji domain resale numbers.

Emoji Empires took part in the first ever Emoji domain auction on NameJet.com this past December 2017.  The highest domain sold during the auction was “????.ws” for USD $3,100.  We expect to see more Emoji auctions on NameJet this year and are currently working with them and Emoji domain investors around the world to continue these specific auctions.

Mike:  Are there any examples of big business leveraging these names?

Emoji Empires: Currently, there are a number of big businesses using Emoji domains including Budweiser (❤????.ws), Sony Pictures (????????.ws), and Phoenix Rising (????.ws). These brands are early adopters to Emoji domains, using them only as redirects to their primary websites. Once consumer awareness increases, big businesses will realize the many opportunities for Emoji domains within their already existing marketing and advertising efforts.

In addition to large brands, we have seen multiple startup businesses using Emoji domains including Weapon Depot (????.ws), Rekindle Candles (♻????.ws), and Renee’s Raw (????????.ws).  Weapon Depot recently announced plans to develop the pistol emoji domain (????.ws) into an open source Emoji URL shortener, with the intent to share the pistol Emoji domain with the entire hunting, camping & fishing communities.

Emoji Empires believes there are many ways for businesses to leverage Emoji domain names, and we want to be the leading Emoji domain company implementing Emoji domains globally.

EVERYONE SPEAKS EMOJI.

Mike:  Could emoji be a trend or just be a fad or is it here for the long haul?  Why?

Emoji Empires:  The widespread popularity of the Emoji language gives people an easier way to express emotion and communicate globally. Businesses have embraced Emoji in marketing & advertising to further connect their brand with new and existing customers. The Emoji domain era is in its infancy, but like mentioned above, once big brands and consumer awareness increases, will we see a real Emoji domain adoption. Emoji domains are short & memorable, transcend language, and stand out as a marketing tool to increase brand recognition and create customer acquisition, like never done before.

Read more...

Dave Evanson has completed more high value, published sales than any other broker in the domain industry

Dave Evanson is the Senior Sales and Brokerage Consultant for Sedo.com, the world’s largest domain aftermarket and monetization platform. He specializes in identifying and presenting domain name and website investment opportunities for corporate clients plus negotiating high-end exclusive sales for the purchase and sale of super-premium internet assets.

I’ve wanted to interview Dave for sometime.  He’s not only an impressive broker with some serious sales under his belt, he’s also one that always comes across as professional, and gives the industry a good name.

Mike: Dave, how did you get into the domain brokerage business?

Dave: It all began right after I bought my first domain. I had founded a global, marketing and strategic planning consulting firm about 35 years ago. In the late 1990s one of our clients was (and still is) a multinational financial services corporation. A couple of my consultants were preparing a power point presentation for the client and gave it to me to review. While I was pleased with the slides on mutual funds, stocks, investment banking, etc., the slide on inheritance was light on content. I wanted to embellish it but didn’t know much about inheritance so I went to the emerging web (formerly referred to as The Super Information Highway) for help. Not much there (yet) so I bought the inheritance.com domain in the aftermarket that afternoon with grandiose ideas for development. Within the next year I had about 5,000 domains. I was already gaining experience in buying and selling domains. In 2006, I began attending domain conferences and I submitted a few hundred domains to an auction. Over 60 of them sold and I realized both domain brokerage and auctions work synergistically and represent a career change opportunity for me. I was already brokering for some friends and clients but there weren’t enough hours in the day. While I was preparing to close my management consulting firm to concentrate on domain brokerage full time I was also on a few boards (including Afternic’s Advisory Board). In late 2010 I closed the firm, resigned from the boards, and joined Sedo so I could broker full time with the support and backing of the leading global brokerage and marketplace company.



Mike: You’ve been involved in countless domain sales, what have been of your largest?

Dave: As you know, most $100,000 plus sales are not made public due to NDAs. I have been involved in over 300 six and seven figure sales over the years but most are confidential. A few I can mention that are $250,000 or more are: MM.com ($1,200,000), Furniture.co.uk ($650,000), Give.com ($500,000), Webhosting.co.uk ($500,000), Jobs.ca ($450,000), Broker.com ($375,000), True.com ($350,000), DJI.com ($300,000), Spend.com ($275,000), Grid.com ($275,000), Moms.com ($252,000) and Flashcards.com ($250,000).

Mike: Sedo boasts “Dave Evanson has completed more high value, published sales than any other broker in the domain industry.” Has it been a difficult journey building up your contacts, reputation, and success? Any secrets to your success?

Dave: I wouldn’t say it has been a particularly difficult journey. Rather, I would say it has been a long journey involving many years of hard, dedicated work. Building contacts and reputation takes time, trust and luck. It also takes diligence, persistence, honesty and drive. I have been blessed with years of job positions, projects, assignments and engagements leading to professional relationships with nearly one thousand successful business people, many of whom I go back to when looking for leads to sell a premium domain in their industry or professional network. I am very proud (and lucky) to personally know so many senior corporate executives and business leaders.
I try to put my focus on my clients and their needs. I try to communicate with them through the channels and methods they use to communicate with me. I work very hard to get them the highest prices for the domains they are selling. When I am hired to help them buy domains my full attention goes towards finding and negotiating the best prices for them. If you deliver for your clients, they will refer business to you in the future.

Mike: Do you have a favorite domain story you can share?

Dave: Well there is one but I am unable to mention the domain. It sold for $125,000 in a confidential sale. I was working for the seller. He was very difficult, demanding and even condescending at times. I found the buyer who made the seller look like an easy going, fun loving person who I’d get a beer with anytime. As the negotiations began I questioned myself as to whether or not I could facilitate a deal with these two extreme personalities. Not only that but they were from different countries with different cultures and accepted practices. It seemed to be beyond challenging to say the least but I wanted to get the deal done. There were ups and downs but we were moving along with several back and forth offers and counteroffers. Then, a comment from the buyer set the seller off and the seller began countering with higher prices which caused the buyer to lower his offer a couple of times. I thought I’d wait a day or two to let them calm down. Instead the seller was skyping and emailing me with complaints about a buyer who was lowering his offers. The seller didn’t think it was relevant that he started raising prices first. The buyer kept calling me and he seemed to have plenty of time on his hands to complain about the seller (my client). This negotiation was really wearing me down. I tried a shot of scotch, a workout at the gym, a chapter in a good book but I couldn’t get the negotiation off my mind. Anyway, the only thing I could think of was to ask seller and buyer to role play. I asked seller to think like buyer and buyer to think like seller. After a short conversation with both sides they resumed offers and counter offers from where they were before they started bidding in opposite directions with seller going higher and buyer going lower in the middle of the negotiation. The next day we had agreement on price.

Mike: What should a domainer know prior to hiring a broker for assistance in selling a domain name?

Dave: The seller should have a good understanding of what the broker is going to do to get the domain sold for the highest price. The seller should know about commissions and any other fees plus how long the agreement is in place. Seller should know what to do if someone contacts him about the domain and how the broker will provide feedback during the engagement.

Mike: How can an end user benefit from working with a domain broker to purchase a name?

Dave: The end user may know the exact domain name they want. They may not. If they don’t the broker should be able to help with name suggestions. Either way the broker can hide the end user’s identity and probably negotiate a lower price. The end user may not be able to track down the owner(s). Brokers know how to do that. The end user may not wish to negotiate. The broker has a better chance of getting the domain and can save the end user time and money.

Mike: While you focus on the cream of the crop domain names, what advice do you have for those that are working on the lower end of the spectrum when it comes to selling domains?

Dave: Everyone has to start somewhere. I started delivering newspapers after school on my bicycle when I was 11. Don’t try to reinvent the wheel. Read domain blogs. Join domain forums. Do some valuations. List names on marketplaces such as Sedo. Go to conferences. Meet and develop relationships with other domainers and brokers. Try some auctions. Do some basic targeted outreach (such as email/phone/social media). Use an escrow service. Try to scale.

Mike: What is your opinion on the flood of newer TLDS that have hit the market? Is that a new opportunity of just some noise in the background?

Dave: I`ve brokered some premium new domains and Sedo sold a ton over the marketplace. Startups are grabbing them. Some large established companies are investing in them. It’s an ongoing process with some making good progress and taking hold. Dot com is still king but the landscape is gradually becoming more interesting.

Read more...

Chili.com – Not what you would expect

Giorgio Tacchia is the Founder, President and CEO of the CHILI.  CHILI is an European digital entertainment player.  In August 2017 CHILI launched the only Entertainment Centred Marketplace.  A transactional service which offers Cinema Previews, New Releases, a digital catalogue with over 50.000 films and TV Series, DVDs and Blu-Rays, Exclusive Gadgets and lots more.  CHILI provides its service on Smart TVs, Blu-Ray players, PCs, Tablets and Smartphones.  There are no monthly fees nor activation costs.  CHILI offers the widest range of titles with thousands of movies and TV Series, thanks to agreements with the most important production companies, local distributors and independent labels. Founded in June 2012, CHILI is controlled by its founding managers. Other shareholders of note are: Paramount Pictures, Sony Pictures Entertainment, Viacom, Warner Bros.

Mike:  Giorgio, what makes Chili.com different that other entertainment providers?

Giorgio:  CHILI represents the first entertainment centred marketplace that enhances the transactional experience, including first vision, cinema previews, news, information on cast, reviews, photos, clips and customer ratings on theatrical releases and also cinema ticketing and booking, movies’ merchandising and DVD/BluRay Disc. CHILI offers a wide range of titles with more than 50,000 movies and TV series, thanks to agreements with the most important Major Studios, local distributors and independent labels.

Mike:  What factors led you to selecting the name CHILI for your service?

Giorgio: At the beginning, we wanted to find a brand name which wasn’t directly related to movies, the digital distribution or internet. We liked the name CHILI because is international, easy to remember and easy to play with (like our section the chillest). Our domain name was initially CHILI.tv but we changed to CHILI.com in order to become more international and to emphasise our presence on all devices. It is also possible to represent CHILI with a self-explanatory icon, t’s a short name near the beginning of the alphabet.

Mike:  CHILI.com sounds like a really great service.  When I type in CHILI.com I’m greeted with the message “Sorry! CHILI Cinema is not yet available in your country. We are working to make it happen.”  Why is the service not yet available in the USA?  What is the primary market that you serve?

Giorgio:  CHILI was founded in 2012 in Italy as a pay per view-streaming platform for watching on demand movies and TV series, and thanks to the domestic success we extended the perimeter of distribution to Austria, Poland, Germany and the UK. Now we are focused on commercially launching the new platform in these countries which represent 60% of the European market. At the moment we are concentrating our efforts in Europe, to further extend distribution perimeters is one of our future goals and  we will definitely start with English speaking countries.

Mike:  Can you tell me how you acquired the domain name?  Was it a complex process?

Giorgio:  Easy process, just expensive!

Mike:  How has owning a premium name like CHILI severed your business needs?

Giorgio: For sure, at the beginning, having a brand name which doesn’t immediately bring to mind our services in phase where we are creating brand awareness has been complicated, on the other hand the name is intriguing and stimulates curiosity. Now in Italy, after 5 years, the brand notoriety has increased, overseas will catch up following the launch

Mike:  What type of traffic numbers do you see at CHILI.com on a monthly basis

Giorgio: We have reached more than 1.3 million clients and we are increasing 50/100k clients monthly.

Mike:  What are the types of hurdles you face as on online media business?

Giorgio:  At the end the hardest issue is to catch the consumer attention in a very competitive arena, consumers are targeted in many different ways but the time they have for media consumption doesn’t increase.

Finally the piracy still remains rampant even though the  quality is very low.

Read more...

The Laughing Stock of Domains

LaughingStock Comedy Company is the funniest company in business.

For over 20 years, members of LaughingStock have been lampooning America’s corporate culture at banquets, association meetings, customer fetes, trade shows and other special events. They have created comedy mayhem live on stage, on audio and video industrials and on-line.

LaughingStock’s success is a result of extensive background research into every single audience for whom they perform combined with quick-witted comedians taking and using audience suggestions during the performances. LaughingStock’s experienced actor/comedians are well schooled in improvisational comedy techniques and — armed with their background research — spontaneously create fun and funny scenes based on the work lives of the audience.

Mike: Dean, tell me a little bit about yourself. When did you first get involved with comedy? What has your comedic career looked like?

Dean: In 1979 I was on the radio in Portland, Maine as a morning “personality.” One day this guy comes in to promote his new comedy act opening at a local club. He was plugging a “media night” with free food and open bar. As a starving DJ, I – and the whole media community – went. That night “Abrams & Anderson” made its comedy-improv debut. I – nor the whole media community – had never seen anything like it. Especially the guy’s female partner. I knew from the first night she was an “it” girl. I returned several times and brought my friends. Over the next two years we became good friends as their act really took off. They started in the clubs moved on to fairs, festivals, colleges, associations and corporate events. In 1983 they asked me to join them as the world’s first “comedy roadie.” I took over the role of road manager, contributed as a writer and and taught them how to run a business. I started getting on stage a little bit in some of their sketches that required more than two people, eventually appearing in about half the act. Between 1983 and 1993 they migrated their focus to the corporate and association markets almost exclusively, traveling the nation and commanding decent fees. In 1993 the guy decided to head to Hollywood to pursue his dream of movie stardom. The “it” girl and I reformed the act with another partner and launched LaughingStock Comedy Company as an official trio. Oh yeah, along the way the “it” girl and I got married.

In 1998 we moved to Tucson, Arizona and in 1999 we lost our third partner and shrank back to a duo. We used other improv-actors from the local market and around the country to supplement our cast as we continued to present a trio. Business was good until 2008 when the big banks screwed the entire corporate entertainment industry by handing out bonuses and throwing lavish corporate meetings while the rest of the economy went down in flames. All that bad press just killed the idea of anyone having fun at a business meeting and anything other than a motivational speaker got dropped from the budgets.

happy-286152_960_720

Of course, that’s what we saw looking back. It took five or six years before we realized our market had disappeared. I spent two years marketing and selling LaughingStock 40 hours a week with literally zero results. In the meantime my partner went back to school and got her Masters in Theatre Studies and got a part-time job as a Christian Education Director at her church. She was so good at it they encouraged her to get her certification to become a lay pastor. Which she did. Almost immediately she was offered a job as a pastor at a small church here in Tucson. And in the meantime I applied for Social Security benefits early as I needed the money. Apparently no one wanted to hire an ex-comedian in his 60’s.

In the last two years I have realized I am fully retired. And behind every successful retired man is a wife with a job in town. We do continue to perform pro bono shows for causes in which we believe, but the commercial aspect of our business has passed.

Mike: Let’s talk about your domain name. I love it. Laughing.com is short, descriptive, to the point, and puts a smile on your face. Did you purchase the domain from someone or were you the first to register it? If you purchased it, can you talk about the process you went through?

Dean: Sometime in the 90’s a guy came to the office and said we needed a web site. We said, “Okay! What’s a web site?” Actually we had been doing quite a bit of work for the tech industry in the Route 128 loop around Boston. I remember a top-level VP explaining the difference between hardware and software to us. Anyway, the guy says he’ll build it and all we have to pay for is hosting. When it came time to pick a domain name Laughingstock.com was taken. I think there was only .com, .edu and .gov available at the time. Laughing.com was available so we registered it. Later we registered laughingstock.info as a site dedicated to our speaker bureau partners who want a contact-free information delivery scenario.

Mike: Laughing.com is home to LaughingStock Comedy Company. As described in the opening paragraph’s, this is a business and a funny one at that. Tell us how you work with companies and what you bring to the table. Why hire LaughingStock Comedy Company?

Dean: Publicly we promoted ourselves as a improv group, but we learned early on that incorporating inside information to our sketches paid big dividends from the audiences. We essentially customized every performance. We would do extensive research on the group for whom we were performing. We conducted a long interview with our sponsor, conducted several phone call interviews with people who would actually be in the audience and asked for lots of materials from which we would glean little details about what the folks in the audience had to deal with day in and day out. We created sketches that allowed us to integrate suggestions from the audience with the background material we gathered in advance. Our goal was to have folks ask how long we had worked for the company. The material was that inside.

Comedy brings a lot of things to a successful meeting. A great comedy show is memorable. It helps make the other message deliverables memorable, too. Comedy is a great stress reliever. We performed for lots and lost of stressed out audiences, including one group of back-office workers getting laid off because of a merger. Comedy is a great reward, we performed for countless incentive programs and bonus reward audiences. Comedy can drive a message. With the ability to control our content we were able to deliver and/or support corporate messages in a fun way. Laughing makes you breathe and oxygenates your brain, leaving you more open to new information. And comedy is cathartic. I am most proud of performing for breast cancer survivors. Twice!

Mike: How much traffic do you receive on the site. I imagine you get quite a bit just from people typing in “laughing.com” to see what comes up.

Dean: I have no idea. I stopped getting metrics from my host several years ago.

Mike: Say something funny. Just kidding. Is there much competition in an industry like this?

Dean: Tons. When we started there were very few improv groups outside New York and Chicago. And even fewer clued into the corporate/association market. Now the world is lousy with them. I use that word purposely. Then there are the “theme” companies, specialty bands, DJ’s, impressionists, magicians, hypnotists, celebrities, celebrity look-alikes, circus acts, politicians, Olympic heroes, authors, photographers, faux speakers, TED talkers, the list goes on and on. In our peak years our best competition was Second City and the Capitol Steps.

Mike: Have you received unsolicited offers for the domain name? Would you ever consider selling? Can you tell us how much you have been offered?

Dean: We have received inquiries over the years. I used to reply it was for sale for “One Million Dollars!” Funny, no one ever got back to me on that. Then as business started declining, I’d ask what it was worth, but no one ever came back with a figure. Yes, I would consider selling it at a premium. The premium part is me being sentimental about what laughing.com represents in my personal and professional life.

Mike: I see there is a laughingstock.com, lughingstockcomedy.com, laughingstockcomedy.co.uk. Do you feel there can be any confusion across these domains?

Dean: Certainly. When the site first went live Laughingstock was on the first page Google return for a search for improv groups. But we never worried too much about the other domains. We considered our site as one giant brochure and marketed to potential clients by driving them to the site. I would say we never made more than 10% of our sales from folks who stumbled on our site. When we got the domain we were allowed one email address. We chose propaganda@laughing.com since there were three of us sharing an in-box, and we thought it was an interesting email address for folks to use to get more information about us. With the advent of social media I started using lol@laughing.com. In a sense, the email addresses were more important than the site itself.

Mike: You mentioned you are retired.  Laughing.com is currently says “under construction.” What can we expect in the near future?

Dean: As our business declined it made no sense to keep up the many aspects of maintaining the site: Updating the client list, list of engagements, letters of recommendation, new videos, photos, promotions, etc. So one day I pulled everything off except the video (which tells our whole story anyway) and posted that the site was under construction. We have no future plans for it.

Read more...

With 3 Million Monthly Page Views, Finder is a Keeper

As an author, blogger, award-winning digital marketer, media commentator, mentor and active member of the startup community, Fred Schebesta is a highly respected entrepreneur.

Fred is the Co-founder and Director of finder.com.au — one of Australia’s largest comparison websites. At just 26 years of age, Fred entered the comparison market – which is one of the most highly competitive online categories in Australia.

Fred’s entrepreneurial journey started well before finder.com.au. At just 22 years of age, while studying a Bachelor of Finance degree at Macquarie University in Sydney, he and Frank created Freestyle Media and grew the business into a successful digital agency that sold to a publicly-listed company in 2007.

Mike: Tell me about Finder.com and exactly what the site offers it’s visitors.

Fred:  finder.com is a personal comparison website that helps Americans make better decisions about their money. We believe that teaching people about finance will help them make better decisions and ultimately live a better life. Consumers can visit finder.com to compare and learn about credit cards, mortgages, personal loans, life and travel insurance, shopping deals, international money transfers and much more before choosing the option that best suits their needs. Our vision is to “compare everything”, we know that is going to take a long time, but that is ok, we are strapped into this rocketship!

My business partner and I started finder in our native Australia over a decade ago, and are now operating in 10 different countries around the world.

We’re not owned by an insurance or travel company (like some other comparison sites) and we aren’t affiliated with any one institution or outlet, so we are an independant team of genuine experts. Beyond comparing products, this team of experts produce thousands of guides, videos and research to help people better understand money and make informed decisions.

Finder.com

Mike: I have read in your bio that you founded Finder.com.au. Was this prior to Finder.com as mentioned above? Are there any differences in the sites other than geography?

Fred:  Finder.com.au was where the magic started. This is our domain name for the Australian site, which is the most visited personal finance website in the country. We then set our sights on global expansion, launching in the US with finder.com in 2015. Both domains have the same aim – of helping people understand their money decisions and providing local choices and empowering them to make “Great decisions”!

Mike: In your experience as a successful online entrepreneur, has it proven to be beneficial to use country specific TLDs such as .com.au to target your audience?

Fred:  In short, yes. Although there have been a lot of instances where we have found that being a .com has helped us target more global verticals. So it really does depend. I think there is still lots of value in country specific TLDs but I think the jury is out as to what is the best strategy globally.

Mike: I’ve read through some great articles on the site, including “The Financial Case for Sobriety, Calculate Your Savings” which was an eye opener. Do you have a staff of writers or do the articles come from outside contributors? How is this funded?

Fred: We have a team of writers based all over the US who are experts in various elements of personal finance including credit cards, personal loans and international money transfers. We also regularly engage with industry experts for insights and predictions such as this piece on how AI, blockchain and social media will impact cross-border payments.

Mike: Both Finder.com and Finder.com.au are killer names. Are you willing to share traffic numbers with us?

Fred:  Globally, finder receives over 3 million monthly page views and 2.1 million monthly UA’s.

Mike: How about acquiring the names. Can you tell me how you went about getting the names? 

Fred:  First, we reached out to the original domain owners. It took quite a few attempts to get through to them; I think around a year. It then took quite a lot of negotiating to get to a realistic monetary figure. From there we used an escrow service and then after that we made the trade. The actual purchase was relatively straight forward although the process to to get there took a very long time.

Mike: What is the business model here. How does Finder make a profit. Is it affiliate based depending on which deals people sign up for?

Fred: Finder is independently-owned and totally free to use. We make our money through the providers, rather than our users. When you click through to, or apply with, a financial institution or retailer on our site, they pay us a small referral fee for sending you their way. This means we don’t mark up any of the products on our site, yet can still provide a quality service. We’re not affiliated with any one institution or provider, so only serve the best options for our consumers’ needs.

Mike: This is not your first rodeo. You founded, grew, and sold Freestyle Media a decade ago. What advice do you have for average people looking to quit the daily grind and make a living online? What are some important considerations.

Fred:  Success will take a lot longer than you realize: many would-be entrepreneurs lack the patience to see a business grow. Even the best idea takes time to build. My business partner and I wanted to remain independently funded, and so that meant turning down other opportunities to focus on slow and steady growth.

Focus on achieving one thing well, before you move on to the next: natural-born entrepreneurs typically have many great ideas yet it’s impossible to do everything well at the one time. Taking a more focused approach is a much faster track to success.

Build resilience: even the most successful of entrepreneurs has had their fair of knock backs and downright failures. You can’t let these get you down. Take each mistake or slip up as a learning opportunity. It’s not meant to be easy.

Set and regularly redefine goals: there are many steps in between working for a salary to running your own business. Use goal setting to stay on track, focused and motivated. Sometimes the road will seem impossibly long, but chunking it down into smaller, short term goals en route to the big dream will make it feel more achievable. Remember to constantly go back and check on those goals, ensure they are still in line with your vision and celebrate the wins you’ve had along the way.

Mike: How beneficial do you think it is to have your business on a keyword domain name like Finder.com?

Fred:  I think it’s absolutely awesome and has been a crucial part of our success. We wanted to have a short name that was recognizable and easy to communicate and remember. I think domain names are amazingly important. A great domain becomes your brand.

If you like this post and want to sponsor it on Domaining.com, click HERE.

Read more...

Is this the future of domain names?

James Stevens was born in Singapore, the son of a military chaplain. Educated at boarding school in England, James (who had always excelled in Mathematics & Physics) fell in love with technology when, in the early 1980s, the school acquired some Apple ][ PCs. He later took a holiday job writing accounting systems, on the Apple ][, for small businesses at an Apple dealership in the Barbican. Although, technically, his first paid work in computers was aged 16, selling games for the 8-bit home computers that had become popular in the mid-1980s.

James went on to study computer science at university where he first came into contact with Unix system and immediately was taken by their openness and flexibility.

After working at a software house and a relational database vendor, James went into freelance contracting working in the City of London, specialising in high-speed database applications and front-office trading systems mostly using Sybase on Solaris.

While at Goldman Sachs in 1994 he worked on a project to provide server monitoring and management using a web interface and could immediately see the potential of this new technology.

Leaving Goldmans he started a Linux research company specialising in network appliances, embedded operating systems and remote web management. That was sold ten years later to his business partner when he was offered the role of CTO at the dot-IO domain name registry – which also managed dot-AC, dot-SH and (under contract) dot-TM.

While there he jointly founded CommunityDNS (www.cdns.net) to exploit the security advantages of the then emerging Anycast network technology. Using his experience in embedded operating systems to design and create the hardened & encrypted operating system for the CommuityDNS platform, as well as implement a full rewrite of the dot-IO domain name registry system.

With his heart still in entrepreneurship, he left the CTO role to found Names.of.London Ltd to exploit innovative and imaginative new techniques in human readable domain names, made possible by the release of the wave of new top level domains.

Mike: I like the idea of what you are doing with names.of.london.  Tell me how you came up with the concept.

James:  One morning, I heard a radio ad for dot-LONDON on a local station and immediately realised there was an opportunity to run a second-level registry using “of.london” – I also thought it would be cool to own “mayor.of.london”

I was originally going to launch with “of.london” & “in.london”, but I wasn’t allowed “in.london” as “in”, for all the new-GTLD, is currently blocked by India as they fear confusion with dot-IN.

So I designed an algorithm to look for other combinations that would work, for creating three word phrases, and the one that came out head-and-shoulder above all the others was “for.sale”.

It cost quite a bit to buy, but it needs no explanation.

Mike: It reminds me of co.com. Have you collaborated or learned from the people behind that effort? What similarities and differences do you see?

James:  Those domains were/are all run by CentralNIC – they were one of the customers of CommunityDNS (www.cdns.net) while I was CTO there, so I know Gavin Brown, the chief techie there, pretty well.

I always liked the idea, but felt it lacked a certain something. It seems to be pitching itself as a second-class choice – you’d only buy it if you can’t get the dot-COM.

Clearly from a purely technical perspective they are basically the same business model, but I feel the additional concept of turning domain names into human readable phrases gives mine an edge. I feel what I am doing offers something quite different from anything else on the market.

As far as I know, nobody else is offering a similar service to me.
I’ve not spoken to anybody there about this project, or collaborated in anyway, but I have learned a lesson from the problems they have had with “gb.com” in terms of ownership and control of the parent domain.

“gb.com” is (was?) rented from a third party and when there was a dispute the original owner would disable all the names – this kills the reputation of /all/ their other domains – for this reason I would only sell from parent names I own directly.

Mike: How does Google and the other search engines treat the names? Are there any SEO benefits or penalties for this type of URL?

James:  They seem to be treated very favourably.  We get top-5 ranking on many terms where we clearly have absolutely no relevant content. I think this is due to the high levels of type-in traffic we get.

Most (55%) of the people using our phrases are under 35. They don’t remember the original dot-COM boom, so domain names mean something different to them.

This can make buying one of our names one of the cheapest ways to draw targetted visitors to your site – “pugs.for.sale” is $25/yr and will get you about 650 targetted visitors per year for your $25.

Although Facebook’s ad rates are pretty low, it would cost you quite a lot more to get that number of /targetted/ click-throughs.

Mike: Again, similar to co.com, are these second level domains in which registrations are at the third level?

James:  Right – but, as with “co.com”, my domain names can work exactly the same as any domain at the second level, if you want to use them that way – just like “co.uk”, which used to be the de-facto standard for UK businesses.

Where one of the names coincides with an existing brand – e.g. “links.of.london” or “just.for.men” – I see that as the most obvious use. I like the way the domain name is just the brand and nothing else, really makes it stand out.

However, with “phrases.for.sale” we’re offering a service more like bit.ly where you use the phrase to re-direct people to existing content – but unlike bit.ly our phrases are easy to read & easy to remember.

For example, if you have a Nike store on ebay you an use “nikes.for.sale” to redirect to your store – its much shorter & memorable than the full URL – but still clickable in Twitter and attractive URLs get 34% more click-through (according to bit.ly).

Or you could use a phrase like “break.from.work” to (say) promote a snack bar – linking users to online content offering a competition or coupon etc.

Mike: What does it cost to register a name with you?

James:  Like most new-GTLDs, it depends on the name. But all prices are capped at $300 new ($250 renew) and we don’t have a massive number at that level.

However, “.for.sale” has flat pricing, every name is $25 – about 10 are reserved – otherwise, if its not sold its available & $25.

If I thought it would boost sales, I would be happy to drop prices to any sustainable level, but I don’t think pricing is currently the barrier to adoption as we also have a 30-day free trial.

Mike: How many registrations have you received to date?

James:  Although I started the business about 18 months ago, it was only at the end of Jan-2017 that I left my “day job” to work on this full time.

So right now sales are slowly picking up.

I’ve had a lot of positive feedback and I think I’ve been able to provide solid responses to legitimating concerns.

Mike: What are some examples of names that are in use?

James:  We have a Chinese buyer who has bought a few clothing related names, and some domainers who have bought some property and domaining related names.

One buyer has signed up for an affiliate program and has bought names to redirected to that, which seems quite an interesting business model.

e.g. domain.for.sale redirects to a Uniregister affiliate.

We’re getting over 600,000 visitors a year to our domains, which are often really targetted (like pugs.for.sale), so the lack of sales can be really frustrating!
Mike: Do you think this is the future? Are you acquiring other names to use in a similar manner and grow the business?

James:

Yes – I’m convinced human-readable domain names will be a big part of the future direction of the domain industry.

It feels like the time when we switched from the geeky old MS-DOS 8.3 files names to the freedom of full Windows file names – no longer were we tied to the computer code file names of the 1980s.

You can already see the human-readable combinations like “golf.club”, “coffee.club”, “diet.expert” fetching some of the highest prices.

The new-GTLD registries need to find new markets for domain names if they are going to sell in anything like the numbers they want/need. Naming websites is a limited market – they need to get a lot more creative and innovative.

I think that’s where names.of.london can come in – domain names can become like promo-codes that you can enter into any phone or browser to be taken directly to the content that relates to the promotion you saw.

We are also already seeing businesses rebranding to include the dot as part of the company brand. This started with some dot-COM, but is more common with the new-GTLDs.

I have a list of existing names I want to buy and, if the concept becomes universally accepted, registering my own new-GTLDs would be the eventual aim of the business.

I am aware its a problem, only being able to offer a specific range of endings. If a TLD was registered for the purpose of turning into phrases you could guarantee that any phrase ending in that word could be available to buy. Whether ICANN would agree to that is a different matter, but I don’t give up easily.

Right now I would buy a premium name that has good potential (I am currently negotiating on one), and I sometimes buy ones that are dirt cheap even where they have limited potential, but mostly my priority now is getting my sales up.

Its a myth that a good product sells itself – if nobody’s heard of it, no matter how good its is, nobody’s going to buy it.

If you like this post and want to sponsor it on Domaining.com, click HERE.

Read more...

Passion and Grit over Profit

Ethan Schmidt is the founder and Chief Technology Officer of GymBull.com, a new online community dedicated to fitness. On GymBull, gyms, personal trainers, and athletes can easily search, share, and save workout and nutrition information. It is a great way for those in the fitness industry to boost their online presence and showcase their talents, and it is an extrememly usefull resource for anyone looking for a collection of varied and specific workouts and meal to improve their personal performance.

Mike: Ethan, tell me about GymBull.com. What makes your site unique from other fitness sites or social media platforms?

Ethan:  Mike, the short answer is that unlike other social media platforms, GymBull is specifically designed for fitness enthusiasts; unlike other fitness-related sites, GymBull is fully-fledged, even-level community. Whereas on Facebook of Twitter or Instagram, where many people still find fitness content, users must sift through millions of cat pictures and political screeds to find workouts and meal recipes and he content creators must fight through these same distractions to reach their audience, on GymBull there is no such noise; everything is exactly what you’re looking for from a fitness perspective. In that same vein, GymBull is a real community that crowd-sources all of its information. Other fitness sites are carefully controlled and curated content from only a few select contributors, and this severely restricts the themes of the content; users have to go to one site for good meal recipes, another for bodybuilding routines, another for interval training, and so on. However, on GymBull all these stream from various trainers and diverse gyms are in one place. On GymBull, anyone can be a leading fitness influencer by the nature and quality of their content alone.

Mike: Who is the end user of the site?

Ethan: As I mentioned above, GymBull.com is designed to connect two groups of end-users: the content creators and the content consumers. It gives gyms and personal trainers around the world a platform to connect with both existing clients as well as a wider audience. These trainers don’t have to hassle with setting up their own corner of the internet and fighting for views; it’s all here from them on GymBull in front of a user base eager for what they have to publish. As for the other half of the users, GymBull is designed to search, save, and share workouts and meals easily and efficiently on a mobile web application that you can take to the gym and beyond. Looking for a 12-week routine that gets you beach-body ready for summer? Follow one on GymBull; How about a single 90-minute routine that will focus on clean & jerk form? It’s here, too; Don’t know exactly what you’re looking for? Hit the “random” button as much as you like until something suits your fancy.

Mike: You mentioned that you coded the site yourself. What are the pros and cons of doing this? Were you a coder before you designed the site?

Ethan: I was not a programmer or developer before GymBull.com; I had spent six years as a Surface Warfare Officer in the US Navy. However, I have always been an avid gym-goer and was increasingly frustrated with how fitness information was being produced on the web. By building this application myself, I retained as much creative control as I needed to get it off the ground, but now I’ve opened up the source code on GitHub an consider all open-sourced contributions. In this way the community that uses the platform can build the platform itself , strengthening the engagement needed to make GymBull a lasting project. I do not think I could have achieved what I wanted by hiring an third-party development agency; certainly not for the price that I built it myself, which was absolutely free.

Mike: What went into choosing the name GymBull.com? What does it represent to you and to your users?

Ethan: I wanted a name that was unique, concise, and informative. I spent a lot of time thinking of one that also had a relevant, open domain-name and a relatively clear search results. GymBull relates a perfect notion of strength that inspires our users. It’s memorable, pronounceable, and easy to brand with our logo, a bull.

Mike: How do you make money on the site? I don’t see any paid subscriptions or advertisements?

Ethan: I don’t make money on GymBull.com; in fact, I’m out a few bucks a month in server hosting fees. Profitability is not something I have seriously considered yet; the first and foremost goal is to create a great place on the web to share fitness information. GymBull will always be centered around that focus, however, the fitness industry generates 80 billion dollars a year in the U.S. and carries a dedicated buy base. If in the future GymBull is stable enough to support sponsored and targeted content, that can be an avenue to consider.

Mike: Everyone wants to be fit, yet few of us want to put in the effort. What’s the best piece of advice you have for the general population?

Ethan: My best advise to the general public would be to have realistic goals and then just show up. Few people will ever go from a couch potato to an Olympic athlete, but that doesn’t mean that they can’t lose five to ten pounds. Maybe going from the typical American diet to full paleo-caveman is too daunting, but it’s still beneficial to cut out one thing, like soda, and that’s certainly more doable. The same little steps go for working out, as well; Don’t expect to run a marathon right away, but just putting on gym shorts and walking around the block a few times is a great start and may progress into something more formidable down the line. But you won’t ever get there if you don’t start now.

Mike: How have you been promoting the site and building a user base? Has this been a challenge?

Ethan: I would say that this has been the most challenging aspect of this project for me. Much of the modern web follows the 10% rule of content-creation; i.e. out of everyone who visits a site, only 10% will sign up for a dedicated profile, and out of those users, only 10% will publish their own content for others. Those are razor-thin returns on the demographics we need to generate enough content for entice others to join. However, we’ve fought tooth-and-nail for the users that we do have through online and print media, as well as more organic efforts like contributing to fitness publications and any other medium that potential users already consume. It’s a slow process, for sure.

Mike: Were you the first to register the domain name? If not, what was the process you went through to purchase it?

Ethan: I was the first to own GymBull.com; this was one of the primary concerns in deciding on a name in the first place. Domain registry, server hosting, and other aspects of of development operations can be a complicated journey, sometimes even more so than developing the source code itself. It’s another aspect that I have not ceded to an outside entity as of yet, because this ownership and control is paramount to me at this stage. Eventually, however, I would like to take a set back from the electron logistics and completely focus on the site itself, But I don’t see that happening for a while.

If you like this post and want to sponsor it on Domaining.com, click HERE.

Read more...

What is everyone around me doing right now?

Mack Hasz is a 22 year old raised in Malvern, PA. He’s a recent Virginia Tech graduate who had an idea for an app. As a freelance Software Developer living in Arlington, VA, he decided to put his idea into action and created OutHere. His website is OutHere.social

Mike: What inspired you to create the app?

Mack: OutHere is an idea I conceived when I was a sophomore in college spending the summer in Blacksburg, Virginia. Life moves pretty slow in a college town in the summer and I kept thinking “What is everyone around me doing right now?”. I wanted to be able to get a general snapshot of what was happening at this very moment. There are other services out that tried to do that, but none to my liking. The problem is that these services allow any ‘ol picture to be upload, usually resulting in meme like being shared. I wanted to see what was happening in real life. The closest thing to what I wanted was Snapchat city stories, where this app draws heavy inspiration. I enjoyed seeing what the community was doing and it was cool to see my posts be a part of the story. However, it didn’t do enough of what I wanted and I saw many ways to improve upon the idea.

Mike: Tell me about the app. What makes it unique?

Mack: OutHere is a public social network. Your typical social app is inherently private, allowing you to connect with family and friends. OutHere, you connect with the world. There is no direct interaction with other users. You don’t send send anyone anything. You simply take a picture or video and put it “OutHere” for the world to see. All media is taken straight from the phone’s camera. Arbitrary uploads are not allowed. This guarantees authenticity. That moment you are viewing wasn’t photoshopped or edited, it was real and it happened. Furthermore all posts are tagged by geolocation with the city they were taken in. This results in you being able to search and discover places that interest you most.

Mike: You selected the name outhere.social as opposed to a traditional dot com name. Tell me why you chose a non dot com and specifically the social TLD.

Mack: I’m a big fan of the non dot com domains. They are alluring and for sure stand out more than a normal .com would. I went with .social to be different, hoping to attract more visitors. I specifically chose .social because it fits my app pretty well and it sounds inviting and friendly, like a “come hangout” vibe.

Mike: Did you write the app yourself? How hard is it to code something like this?

Mack: Yes, I wrote the front and backend which came out to nearly 25,000 lines of code. The level of difficulty depends on how experienced you are as a programmer. I was lucky to start this project with 4 years of university under my belt. If I were a beginner programmer and learning coding from scratch, this would be quite an ambitious project. I already knew good coding practices so all I had to pick up was the Swift programming language syntax and come to understand the iOS UIKit API. There are a ton of great resources available for free online which I was able to use to my benefit. All in all the app wasn’t too challenging and I reckon most seasoned iOS developers will be able to implement something like this rather quickly.

Mike: What is the first thing a person should do when they have an idea for an app?

Mack: It’s important to look at the competition. What’s already out there? Why are they successful? What do you do differently? You can see where your app fits into the ecosystem. Either there is a killer shark waiting to eat you up or you’ve discovered a new species.

Mike: Do you anticipate any challenges with a dot social name? Customer confusion, people not knowing what dot social is?

Mack: I am not sure how knowledgable the public is of other domain names. They have only recently come out and I know most of my non-tech friends don’t know what they are. Regardless of wether they know it or not, they do not that text in blue and underlined are links that take them to other websites. As long as that holds true I should be OK. Over time consumers will become more aware and I should observe a long term benefit.

Mike: What means can one use to promote a new app and get the word out about it?

Mack: This is a good question and one I’m still trying to figure out! I am finding this the most difficult part of the process. How can I get the app into the hands of as many people as possible for as little as possible? So far I have done very little marketing, just a Facebook post to friends. I’m thinking I’ll have to pay for some sort of advertising, I just need to figure out what is most effective. This being a mobile app, it makes sense to advertise to mobile users. I’m working out all kinks, but I do know that blog entries certainly help!

Mike: How important is it to have a website supporting your app?

Mack: It’s crucial to have a website that goes along with your app. It’s what makes your idea shareable. Maybe you start showing up in some search engines, maybe your website gets shared on a forum somewhere, or maybe a coworker sends the link over the work list serve. Before you know it, your app has gone viral. This is not possible if you don’t have a website supporting your app. Another factor to consider is that any people, including myself, don’t want to download another app to add to their growing arsenal of already downloaded apps. It’s important to have a place on the web where they can easily check things out and learn more about the app. If the website is effective, then it should lead to more downloads. I have made my site a preview of what goes on in the app with the idea being that people will see some interesting posts, maybe think of some posts of their own to add, and then hit download.

If you like this post and want to sponsor it on Domaining.com, click HERE.

Read more...

Is dot TV Normal?

Ginny Scales Medeiros was raised in upstate New York and now resides in the San Francisco North Bay. Ginny is an entrepreneur with multiple patents/trademarks. Ginny’s product widely sold in World Class spa resorts and on QVC, made appearances on NBC, CBS, FOX News and written about in many national magazines. This is Ginny’s first novel. “What Is Normal?” made the 2012 top 40 most inspirational list in Gladys Magazine.

Mike: Your product is a book, and your domain has a TV tld. Tell me why you chose dot TV?

Ginny: I chose .TV on purpose because it gives a subliminal impression of Entertainment. I am selling my novel from www.whatisnormal.tv

FACT: .TV has nothing to do with television; it is the country code for the Tuvalu Islands, a series of nine slivers of earth in the middle of the South Pacific, with a population of about 10,000.

Mike: Tell me about the book, what is it about?

Ginny: Based on a true story about a girl, living in a trailer with her uneducated, teenage parents- in the backwoods who craves More!. Realizing the game her uncle plays with her and her sister is wrong, Sue, has to out smart him,to get out of the game. Moving out on her own at 15,making Headline News with record breaking car sales in a Man’s world, Sue must hang tuff, as the jealous men are sure she is sleeping with her customers in order to make so many sales, the office woman with college degrees, resent giving a high school drop out ,paychecks exceeding their own.. Sues quest to WIN, chasing the worlds idea of normal, she lands the guy all the other woman wants, invents and sells her own product on QVC, still there is a void… Now, with time running out, Sue Johnson has to completely stop drinking, or she will continue to mask her true feelings and repeat the infinite task of trying to “WIN” the worlds idea of success, missing the opportunity for real LOVE.

Mike: I see whatisnormal.com is owned by someone else and is for sale. Did you try contacting them for the name to see what the asking price was?

Ginny: I have been contacted many times by the owner of whatisnormal.com offering it to me, I am not interested… because .coms are NORMAL!

Mike: Has owning a TV domain caused any confusion as opposed to something like WhatisNormalBook.com?

Ginny: I have not received feedback about any confusion with my .tv versus the norm .com and in my case it is more than a book. It will also open the door for the MOVIE based on the book.

Mike: As an author, how important is it to have a domain name and website for your book?

Ginny: As an author it is imperative to have a website for my novel. Many an opportunity has manifested in a rushed setting and all I can get out is whatisnormal.tv. The prospect can read more about the book and contact me with just that little,yet very important information. I do get contacted for radio and TV appearances, as well as making book sales from this website.

Mike: I see you are also an entrepreneur and hold several patents. Can you tell me about some of your products? Anything I would be familiar with?

Ginny: I patented, pitched and sold “Flawless sunless tanning” on QVC and in World Class Spa Resorts. I am also in a documentary https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ginny_Scales-Medeiros and a co author with many celebrities of “What is The Electric car?”

*MY Laser focus now is turning the Screen Play for my novel into the MOVIE “WIN” the acronym for “What is Normal?” the project is ready for investors.. (I pitched WIN at the Napa Valley Film Festival a few months ago and it made the finals)

Mike: Any advice for aspiring writers out there?

Ginny: Every day plant a seed in the Garden of your dreams….. Quote by Ginny Scales Medeiros

MEANING: Do “something” daily to encourage another to manifest their dream, make that call to get advise on your dream, follow up on a lead, do some research , edify another author, promote a book for someone else.

If you like this post and want to sponsor it on Domaining.com, click HERE.

Read more...